With CBS making Thursday Night Football into a destination package for fans, it isn’t surprising to see that other networks would be interested in primetime football. According to The Street, Fox is very interested in the package. If Fox is successful, it would mark the second time that it will have wrested NFL rights away from the Tiffany Network. The last time Fox took the NFL away from CBS was in 1993 when it surprised industry observers by outbidding the network for the NFC package. Now Fox is hoping to do it again for the Thursday Night Football series.
CBS took over TNF from NFL Network in 2014 with a bargain basement bid of $275 million for a one-year contract with a one year option. With the NFL looking for another round of bids for another one-year deal and one year option, the bidding for the package is expected to be hot and heavy. CBS would love nothing more than to keep TNF for another round, but CEO Les Moonves has said he would not break the bank to do it.
In the meantime, the NFL is also looking to gain another revenue stream by putting out a bid for online rights to Thursday Night Football by reaching out to Apple, Google, Yahoo and others companies.
This past regular season brought the best ratings-to-date for TNF and with the guarantee of at least 13 million viewers watching every week, who wouldn’t want the NFL?
The Request for Proposal seeking bids from interested networks calls for the winner to produce all 16 games, air half of the schedule with an NFL Network simulcast and NFLN airing the other half and outline plans to grow the league-owned channel.
With Fox losing the aging and former ratings champion American Idol this season, the network needs another series to carry the network. Currently, Fox is fourth overall viewership while CBS ranks near the top of the broadcast networks. Fox also is third in the coveted 18-49 demographic which advertisers crave. Getting Thursday Night Football would certainly raise Fox’s profile for eight weeks.
Fox also carries the MLB Postseason, but has shuffled the League Division Series and League Championship Series to cable and while it does air the entire World Series, MLB schedule around TNF in 2015 so Fox may be in the clear should it obtain an additional NFL package.
It’s quite interesting to see how this will play out over the next month. A decision on the winning bid is expected before the Super Bowl.