Thursday night NFL football is coming to network television.
The NFL had put up for bid the rights of eight early-season Thursday games, and CBS landed the rights for the 2014 season, with an option to extend the agreement for one year thereafter.
CBS will broadcast the eight early-season games, which also will be simulcast on NFL Network, which had owned the Thursday night rights previously. NFL Network then will also televise eight late-season games leading up to the playoffs, which includes a mix of Thursday night games and two late-season games on Saturday.
The CBS announcing team for the games will be Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, and NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows in conjunction with CBS Sports announcers. It has yet to be confirmed, but this would appear to be the end of the Brad Nessler-Mike Mayock announcing team, at least for Thursday nights on NFL Network.
NBC will still broadcast the season kickoff game on the first Thursday of the NFL schedule, which will feature the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks hosting a yet-to-be-named opponent. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to the Shutdown Corner that Saturday, Dec. 20 will feature a double-header — with Nantz-Simms handling one game, and an unannounced tandem the other.
You can bet on a higher quality of games on Thursdays. CBS did not say this in its press release, of course, but it's doubtful they would commit to airing this additional slate of games if there was not some sort of guarantee for games such as Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (Week 5 last season).
The NFL implemented a rule prior to last season that every team would have at least one primetime game, and it's believed that will remain true. The league announced a few months back it would put the Thursday games up for bid, and it's clear CBS believes it's a good market to tap into.
“NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for Thursday Night Football on CBS.”
"We are very pleased to build on our outstanding partnership with the NFL by expanding our coverage to Thursday nights," CBS president and CEO Les Moonves said. "CBS is a premium content company and the NFL represents the best premium content there is. I look forward to all this new deal will do for us not only on Thursday nights, but across our entire schedule."
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