SBD/Closing Bell

Sources: NFL Wants Thursday Games Simulcast On NFL Network

The NFL is requiring that the winning bidder of its Thursday night game package simulcast the games on NFL Network, according to several sources. The NFL included the surprising language in the proposal that it sent to TV networks last week, specifying that the winning bidder's live linear feed "will be simulcast by NFL Network." Whether the TV networks could choose to omit that language when they make their bids is unclear, but TV industry sources said the networks expect the NFL to push to have the games also air on NFL Network.

One of the reasons the NFL is making this package available is to fulfill a desire to extend the reach of its "Thursday Night Football" franchise. By airing its games on two different networks, the league would achieve its goal. By mandating a simulcast, the league almost certainly would have to accept less rights-fee money than they would have received with a straight package. Industry sources over the last few days were surprised by the league's demand and were looking into how much they would have to offer with that stipulation.

Other details began to emerge from the proposals, which the NFL sent to all network partners and Turner Sports. One element creating buzz is the fact that the NFL told networks they could make multiple proposals for any games from Week 2 through Week 16, except for the Opening Night and Thanksgiving night Thursday games. Originally, it was believed that the networks only would bid on an early season package of games. For example, a network could bid for a package of five, eight or 13 games at any point in the season. NFL Network needs to retain a certain number of games to keep its current affiliate fee rate at around $1.20 per subscriber per month.
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