CBS Sees Lower Viewership For Five-Game "Thursday Night Football" Package In '17
CBS last week wrapped up its fourth year airing “Thursday Night Football” games, which again were all simulcast on NFL Network. The package of five games in '17 averaged 14.1 million viewers, down 4% from 14.7 million last year. Two years ago, CBS had eight “TNF” games and averaged 17.6 million viewers. In ’14, CBS drew 16.1 million viewers for that package. Patriots-Buccaneers in Week 5 was CBS' best "TNF" audience of '17 with 15.4 million viewers. But that game only ranked as the 14th-best "TNF" audience for CBS since it acquired the package. CBS' package this year also was hindered by its final game last week, as the 11.4 million viewers for the Ravens' 40-0 win over the Dolphins was the net's lowest "TNF" figure yet out of 26 telecasts over four years (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
CAUSE & EFFECT: ESPN’s Dan Graziano said playing on Thursdays for NFL players is “very, very difficult,” but the “more interesting ‘Thursday Night’ comments” came from CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus regarding the dilution of the NFL product and its effect on ratings. Graziano: “Those are the comments the league will pay attention to if ‘Thursday Night Football’ is deemed by the league or its business partners as bad for business. That’s when I think you see a change. But I don’t think player complaints are going to get it done” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 11/3). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said CBS and Fox execs seem to think the low ratings are being caused by “oversaturation, but when you consider the loss of star power, that could be a factor as well” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 11/3).