Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
February 5, 2014: CBS will add to its already strong schedule of NFL games with eight early season Thursday night games in 2014 under a deal unveiled by the network and the league.
The eight CBS games will also be simulcast on NFL Network. In addition, NFL Network will air eight late-season games in the run-up to the playoffs. The mix of games will include 14 on Thursday nights and two late-season games on Saturday, according to the league.
The agreement is for the 2014 season with an additional year at the NFL’s option. Financial terms were not disclosed.
According to Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports, “The NFL is the most powerful programming in television. To add a prime time NFL package to our successful Sunday AFC package further strengthens our position in the sports marketplace."
The first Thursday Night Football package launched on NFL Network in 2006.
“NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for Thursday Night Football on CBS.”
The NFL said that each of its media partners had been bidding for the package: CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN/ABC, as well as Turner.
NBC still gets to air a two Thursday night games: The season kickoff game, which in 2014 should, if tradition holds true to form, feature the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks as host; and on Thanksgiving Day.
"We were clearly interested in having Thursday Night Football at Fox in 2014, and submitted a bid that we were sure would be competitive with those offered by other parties," Fox Sports said in a statement. "We had terrific dialogue with the NFL during the process, and we believe that the Thursday night franchise has great value going forward. While disappointed to learn that the league has decided to go in a different direction, we’re already looking forward to Sundays next season."
All 16 regular-season games will be produced by CBS with its lead broadcasters and production team, including Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (pictured above), on all Thursday night games. For the first time, NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows along with CBS Sports announcers.
"We are very pleased to build on our outstanding partnership with the NFL by expanding our coverage to Thursday nights," Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., said in a statement. "CBS is a premium content company and the NFL represents the best premium content there is. I look forward to all this new deal will do for us not only on Thursday nights, but across our entire schedule.”