SBD/October 16, 2013/Media

NFL Denies Report League Is Looking At Thursday Doubleheaders On Two Nets

A source said the NFL is considering Thursday doubleheaders
NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy this morning tweeted that the league has “not considered” selling another package of Thursday night games in response to a Wall Street Journal article. He tweeted, "Wondering where the idea of Thursday night doubleheaders came from? So are we. We have not considered this." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello added, "Haven't even discussed it" (TWITTER.com, 10/16). The initial report from the WSJ's Futterman & Ramachandran cited a source as saying that the NFL is "disappointed its own cable channel, NFL Network, hasn't attracted more viewers for the 13 Thursday night games it airs each season." The league "believes that adding a second game to create double-headers on some Thursdays could create more national interest." The source added that the process is "still in the preliminary phase," as NFL execs have "discussed the issue with media outlets but the league isn't shopping a specific package and no formal offers have been received." Futterman & Ramachandran report the additional games "would be taken from the Sunday afternoon schedule, now shown on CBS and Fox, and wouldn't affect deals the NFL has with NBC and ESPN." The league also "could move Thursday night games shown on NFL Network to another channel" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/16).

ANOTHER REVENUE GENERATOR: CBSSN's Doug Gottlieb said of an additional Thursday game, “Think of all the more money that they can generate and the revenue they can generate instead of playing at 1:00 Eastern Time, when all those games are stacked up against each other.” CBSSN's Allie LaForce said, "All of those sports networks against each other -- who will pay the most for another Thursday night game? The competition will only raise the price” ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 10/15). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said the NFL "could make a lot of money if they were to sell those games to the highest bidder." Greenberg: “What’s it worth to a network? I’m not talking about even ESPN. We would jump on this and so would everyone else, ABC, CBS, NBC. What is it worth to them to win a night?” But he wondered what the financial value is of "growing your network." Greenberg: "They own the NFL Network. ... If you start taking the games off there or don't grow that part of it, how much are you losing and what could the asset be worth?" Meanwhile, ESPN's Mike Golic said the NFL adding another Thursday night game is “not going to make the players very happy at all” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 10/16). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote it would be "hard to sell more short-week games once the season has begun," and the NFLPA "would have to agree to more Thursday night games." The "better approach could be to sell all of the Thursday night games to the highest bidder" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 10/15).

TOUGH TURNAROUND: 49ers WR Anquan Boldin earlier this week criticized the NFL for scheduling Thursday games, saying, "If you’re so concerned about player safety then why do you have every team in the league playing on Thursday night when they just competed on a Sunday, knowing how difficult it is for guys to get back to being healthy after playing on Sunday? Guys really don’t feel like they’re back till probably Thursday or Friday to prepare for that next week." Boldin added, "The league can say they’re doing things to protect guys, but I’m not one of the guys buying it" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/15). In Toronto, Mike Ganter writes the NFL "needs more players like" Boldin. He is "exactly the type of high-profile player that should be making these comments" (TORONTO SUN, 10/16). Meanwhile, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians yesterday added his voice to the subject, saying, "I’m not a fan of Thursday night football. I don’t think [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is] really fair to the players, especially the veteran players. We finished up most of our game plan and practice today, which would be a normal players’ day off" (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/15). LaForce said of the NFL getting entirely rid of Thursday games, “Will they? No. Should they? Yes. If the question is should, then the answer is yes because players are getting hurt and they do need time to recover.” Gottlieb: “They signed an agreement. They should’ve read the agreement. They were locked out and they chose not to use enough leverage so that there couldn’t be a Thursday night game” ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 10/15).
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