NFL free agency is still over a month away but CBS has already made one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason. On Wednesday, the network announced that it has secured the rights to eight “Thursday Night Football” games next season.
In a press release announcing the news, the NFL said that “CBS will air eight early season games that also will be simulcast on NFL Network. NFL Network will also televise eight late-season games in the run-up to the playoffs.” According to the release, “The mix of games will include 14 on Thursday nights and two late-season games on Saturday.” CBS’ lead broadcasters, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, will call the games and production responsibilities will shift from the NFL Network to CBS.
The move comes shortly after a January report in Sports Business Journal that the NFL was shopping a one-year contract for “Thursday Night Football” and that several networks, including Turner, Fox, and NBC were interested in securing the rights. In the end, the NFL’s long-standing broadcast partner CBS beat out their rivals and weekday prime time football will return to a broadcast television network for the first time since “Monday Night Football” signed off of ABC and moved to ESPN after the 2005 season.
“Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for Thursday Night Football on CBS,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
The broadcasts themselves will be an unprecedented collaboration between CBS and the NFL Network. While production duties will be handled by CBS, “NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with CBS Sports announcers,” according to the release.
The deal runs only through the 2014 season, although the NFL has an option to extend the rights for an additional year.