The NFL will soon be selling the rights to Thursday Night Football, at least for 2018 and possibly longer. And all four of the major broadcast networks have placed bids on the package.
Via Bloomberg.com, FOX has joined ABC and the two networks that split the package in 2016-17, CBS and NBC, in submitting bids for the Thursday night contract.
Per the report, FOX has submitted multiple proposals involving FOX and FS1; however, with the games already televised on NFL Network, it’s unlikely the league would place game content on anything but a three-letter broadcast network.
FOX’s interest is a bit of a surprise. In October, FOX CEO James Murdoch blamed the Sunday ratings drop on oversaturation arising in part from the Thursday broadcasts. The NFL tried to undermine Murdoch’s complaints by pointing out that FOX doesn’t participate in the Thursday night package.
Some bidders have proposed changes to the game, according to the report. Revisions include scheduling only teams that have had a bye the preceding Sunday, along with moving some of the games to other days of the week.
Under the broadcast antitrust exemption, the league can’t televise games on Fridays or Saturdays from early September through early December.
According to the report, CBS and NBC hope to pay less than the combined $450 million paid by the two networks in 2016 and 2017. The networks also have funded the production of the NFL Network-only games.
The league hopes to announce its decision regarding the TNF package either shortly before or shortly after the Super Bowl.