- Fox has agreed to a five-year deal with the NFL to broadcast “Thursday Night Football.”
- It will air 11 regular season games.
- The deal is reportedly valued at $660 million annually.
The NFL and Fox Sports have agreed to a five-year deal to broadcast “Thursday Night Football,” according to a joint press release sent out by the network and league on Wednesday.
The network will air 11 regular season games between weeks 4-15 beginning in the 2018 season. (This excludes the Thanksgiving night game, which will still air on NBC). Fox will also have all digital rights, meaning Fox Sports will be able to stream Thursday night games for the first time ever. The NFL Network will air the other Thursday night games.
The last two seasons, CBS and NBC paired up for the rights to air 10 Thursday night games (simulcast on the NFL Network). It cost them $45 million per game for a deal valued at a combined $450 million. This new deal is “worth an average of more than $660 million a year,” according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
The average audience for a 2017 regular season NFL game was 14.9 million, down 9.7% from 16.5 million in 2016, and the Thursday night games suffered the most. According to The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus believes the addition of Thursday night games as well as NFL games in London have “diluted the Sunday afternoon packages and affected the ratings.”
However, NFL games are still one of the most valued live-sports assets. The league boasts that the NFL had nine of TV’s 10 most-watched programs in 2017.
Fox Sports is one of the remaining pieces for 21st Century Fox after the company sold a good portion of its assets to Disney for $52.4 billion. Live sports seems to be something that Rupert Murdoch and his family wants to prove to the market that Fox is still interested in, people familiar with the Thursday Night Football deal told Bloomberg.