After sharing the slate of Thursday night NFL games with the nascent NFL Network for the last two seasons, CBS is now forced to share the lucrative franchise with one of its broadcast rivals: NBC.
As the NFL takes over the Bay Area this week for Super Bowl 50, the league has reached a new two-year deal for its Thursday Night Football package, adding NBC to the mix.
Under the new deal, CBS gets five early season Thursday night games, with NBC getting five late-season games and the remainder going on NFL Network. The league is also looking to cut an additional streaming package with Yahoo, Google or Apple that would put even more money in its coffers. An announcement on that is expected in the near future.
"We are continuing to make Thursday Night Football bigger and better," said Commissioner Roger Goodell. "CBS has played an integral role over the last two seasons in helping build Thursdays as a night for NFL football, and we're excited to have them on board again."
Goodell said he's "thrilled to add NBC to the Thursday Night Football mix," calling the network "a trusted partner with a proven track record of success broadcasting NFL football in primetime." NBC will continue with its Sunday Night Football package. With 22 million viewers, it's the most popular show on broadcast TV. Thursday Night Football was the 4th-most watched this season averaging 17.7 million for CBS.
CBS and NBC will pay the league between $450-$500 million, according to multiple reports. CBS paid an estimated $300 million for its eight-game slate this past season.
The deal puts 10 games on broadcast TV, up from eight the past two seasons. But the league needs to maintain a certain amount of games exclusive to NFL Network due to its carriage deals with satellite and cable operators; the NFL Network will maintain exclusivity on eight games next season, and will get production assistance from both CBS and NBC.
The deal is a major win for NBC. Once must-see TV, NBC's Thursday nights have suffered for the past decade. With the NFL, the Comcast network will also have a powerful new Thursday night platform to showcase its new mid-season shows.