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In a major blow to NBC’s attempt to get more NFL games beyond Sunday Night Football, CBS has swooped in and won the rights to some Thursday Night Football games. The rest of the games will air on NFL Network. The deal starts immediately with the 2014 season.
CBS will get to air eight games during the early part of the season. These games will also air on NFL Network. Eight more games during the second half will air on the NFL Network exclusively. The deal also includes two Saturday Night Football games set for later in the season.
At the moment, the deal only covers the 2014 season and an option for 2015, the NFL said. The news was announced today by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, CBS chief Les Moonves and CBS Sports’ Sean McManus.
"NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans," Goodell said. "Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for Thursday Night Football on CBS."
“We are very pleased to build on our outstanding partnership with the NFL by expanding our coverage to Thursday nights," Moonves added. "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."
The deal comes a few weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported that the NFL had started to receive bids for Thursday night games. CBS, Fox and ABC - the only major network that does not currently air NFL games - were reportedly bidding for the games. THR also reported that NBC, which could use anything to lift its weak ratings on Thursdays, was in making an attempt. Turner Broadcasting was also in the running.
The NFL is now the most-watched sport in America. A record 112.2 million viewers tuned in for Super Bowl XLVIII, which aired on Fox, on Sunday. CBS airs AFC matchups, while Fox gets the NFC. NBC airs Sunday Night Football and Disney’s ESPN is home to Monday Night Football.
image: Wikimedia Commons