SBD/January 23, 2014/Media

Decision On NFL's Thursday Night Package Of Games Could Come Next Week

Thursday night package will likely be simulcast on NFL Network
Network execs are meeting with the NFL in Manhattan this week to discuss the bids they submitted for a slate of Thursday night games. It is thought the NFL will decide on the winning bidder within several days, and a formal announcement could come as soon as next week. Network execs believe the league wants to act quickly because it would like to have all its TV partners in place as it starts crafting its '14 schedule -- a process that usually begins soon after the Super Bowl. All of the league's TV partners submitted bids last Friday for the Thursday night game package. Turner Sports also placed a bid. It is not clear who is the front runner or how much the package is worth, since nobody outside of the NFL has seen the bids. Sources said that if ESPN wins, it would put the games on ABC. CBS, Fox and NBC also most likely would put the games on their broadcast nets. The available package will only be for one year, and games likely will be simulcast on NFL Network (John Ourand, Staff Writer).

FOLLOW THE MONEY: In L.A., Joe Flint wrote the NFL for a decade "made getting its NFL Network up and running and fully distributed a top priority," but now that those goals "have been pretty much achieved, the league is considering some moves that could be seen as reducing the channel's value." The scenario "being floated is for the NFL to sell six to eight of the 13 games carried by the NFL Network and keep the rest on its own outlet." The idea of simulcasting the new package of games on NFL Net is "seen as an interim step toward a much bigger TV contract that could result in the NFL Network losing access to some games entirely." Ratings for the "Thursday Night Football" franchise "have not been as high as the league had hoped." The league "wants to make Thursday night football a bigger deal and thinks better games and a stronger platform will do the trick." If ratings on a broadcast net "grow dramatically from what the games have been doing on the NFL Network, the money the league could make there in an exclusive long-term deal might be worth the potential downside of taking games away from its own outlet" (L.A. TIMES, 1/22).
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