When “Thursday Night Football” made its debut in 2006, it was a delight to football fans across the country.
Originally dubbed as the “Run to the Playoffs,” the early years of the broadcast consisted of five late-season games on Thursday nights, as well as three games branded as “Saturday Night Football” on (you guessed it) Saturday. The broadcasts offered fans another chance to watch primetime football while giving the fairly new NFL Network a regular ratings boost.
Since those humble beginnings, the brand of “Thursday Night Football” has grown, now offering games every week of the season and on multiple networks and platforms.
This last point has caused a simple, yet important problem with “Thursday Night Football” – many people don’t know where to find the game each week.
Unlike its primetime counterparts “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football,” which find their respective homes at NBC and ESPN, respectively, “Thursday Night Football” now jumps between NFL Network, NBC, CBS, and Amazon depending on which week of the season.
Without looking, do you know what network tonight's NFL game is on?
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) October 5, 2017
This Thursday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NEw England Patriots will be found on the NFL Network and CBS for most viewers, as is the case for most Thursday games in the first eight weeks of the season. However, fans in local markets will have to head to CBS to catch the game.
In Week 9 (Nov. 2), the game is only on the NFL Network. Then, in Weeks 10-14 (starting Nov. 9), they will be found on both NBC and the NFL Network.
And to those who have cut the cord and opt strictly for streaming games now, you can find some – Weeks 5-8 and 10-14) – but not all, “Thursday Night Football” games on Amazon Prime.
To further complicate matters, none of this includes the opening night matchup between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs on NBC, which was billed as a “Thursday night edition of Sunday Night Football” because it was technically part of the “Sunday Night Football” package.
A similar problem also afflicts the London games that now populate more and more of our NFL Sundays. This season, of the four games that are to be held in London, two earned spots on FOX, one on NFL Network, and one could only be found by logging on to Yahoo Sports.
While it’s a simple enough problem to solve – Google will always point you in the right direction – it’s a bit odd that people have to scan through a series of options in order to find the biggest sport in America playing in primetime.
“Thursday Night Football” games have felt more competitive this season than in the past few years. Now people just have to find them.