The NFL is a dilapidated league
Fox grabs the TNF rights
The US broadcaster Fox will inherit CBS and NBC as Thursday Night Football (TNF) broadcaster for the next five years. The new TV deal brings $ 100 million more into the NFL coffers per year than the previous rights package from CBS and NBC, which together totaled $ 450 million. Although the Thursday game does not meet with much approval from players and fans (more on this below), the corresponding media deals continue to develop skywards.
Fox will therefore produce 11 TNF games per season, which will also be broadcast simultaneously on the NFL Network and a digital partner who will be announced at a later date. In addition, NFL Network will broadcast an indefinite number of TNF games exclusively to serve its pay-TV customers. Fox also secured extended mobile rights for its Thursday and Sunday games.
Football fans will have to do without the top commentary team Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on Thursday, who can still only be seen "on air" on Sundays.
The bidding process, in which CBS, Fox and NBC participated, took place over the past few weeks. According to sources, CBS and NBC are said to have submitted bids that were below the existing deal. ESPN briefly considered placing an offer, but ultimately stopped it. Turner also renounced.
A not insignificant factor in the $ 550 million bid is the point that Walt Disney wants to take over large parts of the rival Fox media empire - only the state regulatory authorities have to agree to the whole. There is an astronomical $ 52.4 billion in stocks in the room.
The deal comes at a time when US viewership for TNF has plummeted, and broadcaster profits have also declined. CBS and NBC had publicly announced that they were losing money with TNF. In addition, the number of viewers fell on both channels. CBS had 4 percent fewer viewers than last season and even 20 percent fewer than in the 2015 season. NBC's audience numbers fell by 21 percent compared to 2016. Nonetheless, TNF is still one of the most watched series formats on US television.
In the past, TV executives had expressed concerns that the expansion of TNF watered down the game too much and also damaged the ratings. Players speak out against the Thursday games several times because they lead to more injuries. It was only earlier this week that the NFL released data that slightly more players were injured at TNF this season (6.9 on average) than in the previous season (6.3). Fans make fun of the fact that the quality of the game suffers if the players do not come out fully recovered.
Fox hopes in his position as the broadcast rights holder of Sunday and Thursday games with the league to work on better arrangements. In theory, Fox could push a traditional NFC game from late Sunday night to Thursday. This scenario is at least conceivable.
Bjoern Hesse - January 31, 2018
Sideline reporter Erin Andrews will be reporting from NFL stadiums for Fox Sports on Thursdays starting next season. (© Getty Images)
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