Fox Close to Deal to Air NFL's 'Thursday Night Football'

Arnold Nichols
February 1, 2018

Fox Sports has won the bidding to air 11 NFL "Thursday Night Football" games next season, SportsBusiness Daily and Bloomberg reported Tuesday night. The digital rights, last held by Amazon, still are up for grabs, Ourand reports.

While the deal has not been completed, Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick and Lucas Shaw reported Fox "submitted a bid that's higher than the $45 million a game CBS and NBC agreed to pay a year ago".

Fox has agreed to a five-year deal with the NFL to broadcast "Thursday Night Football".

The interruptions in the fall schedule, which remains a key launchpad for networks' primetime shows, may have been a factor in the thinking at CBS and NBC, each of which submitted bids to continue airing Thursday night games. The games are expected to pick up a digital partner as well.

"Guys don't have time to recover", wide receiver said after teammate ruptured his Achilles tendon during a Thursday night game in November.

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

"Football is in our blood at Fox", says Peter Rice, president, 21st Century Fox.

The announcement of the deal comes less than two months after 21st Century Fox's announcement of a planned sale of assets to Walt Disney Co. for $52.4 billion, including its regional sports networks, cable channels FX and National Geographic, movie and TV studio, and worldwide assets. The FOX network will be spun off into a new company along with assets like Fox News, Fox Business and sports networks FS1 and FS2, which gives the network a reason to bulk up with additional live programming and more National Football League games.

NFL ratings declined almost 10% in 2017, marking the second straight year ratings dropped, with the average weekly viewers for Thursday Night Football reportedly dropping to 10.9 million from 2016's 12.4 million.

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