Fox gets Thursday night football for 5 years

Posted February 01, 2018

The games will be simulcast on the NFL Network and the Spanish-language Fox Deportes channel. Sources say the contract - which entitles Fox to broadcast 11 games on Thursday each season from Week 4 to Week 15, not including Thanksgiving night - is worth an average of more than $660 million a year.

The NFL's biggest game of the year is this Sunday on NBC, but starting next season Thursday Night Football will have a new home at Fox. As Ourand said in his tweet, Amazon ran the digital package a year ago, but those rights are still undetermined for 2018.

The announcement of this deal is expected to be made official Wednesday. CBS had been paying $450 million per season under the previous Thursday Night Football deal.

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According to the report as part of the deal, Fox picked up expanded mobile rights for its Thursday and Sunday games.

Thursday night in particular has been a complicated affair since its 2014 broadcast debut, posting strong and consistent ratings but yielding few memorable games and contributing to the glut of games. Overall, NFL ratings are down 9.7% this past regular season, but games still accounted for nine of television's 10 most-watched programs in calendar year 2017.

Thursday Night Football offers fans less downtime from week to week in consuming football, though it has come with some criticism.

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Fox agreed last month to sell cable channels FX and National Geographic, its movie and TV studio and global assets to Disney.

Fox aired "Gotham" and "The Orville" on Thursday nights this past fall, drawing ratings that paled in comparison with those put up by the pro football games broadcast by CBS and NBC.

But Fox's interest - and the NFL's payday - illustrate why the package will remain a part of the league's offerings.

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Don't try telling TV executives that the National Football League is waning in popularity. The rest of the package will appear exclusively on NFL Network, which must carry a certain number of games to fulfill its contractual obligations to pay TV providers.