CBS Obeys Twitter, Agrees to Drop Rihanna from Thursday Night Football

CBS made a wise move last week by announcing plans to suspend for one week (sound familiar?) a Thursday Night Football intro segment including a performance by Rihanna and a comedy segment featuring Don Cheadle.

Early this morning, the pop star let everyone know how she felt about the decision:

This development really had nothing to do with penalizing Rihanna or diminishing her star power, but CBS heard that tweet and responded.

As CBS Sports spokesperson Sean McManus told Sports Illustrated last week about the initial decision:

“It’s important to realize we are not overreacting to this story but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL. We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone and coverage. A lot of the production elements we wanted in the show are being eliminated because of time or tone.”

Yet the network hoped to bring those elements back after the controversy died down, because someone paid a lot of money to have the nation’s (second) biggest pop star promote its favorite sport.

Rihanna’s tweet seemed to kill that hope.

A spokesperson initially told USA Today that the removal of the segment was “part of a number of changes made to Thursday’s broadcast to make room to discuss the Rice situation”, but here’s this afternoon’s updated statement from CBS SVP of comms Jen Sabatelle:

“Beginning this Thursday, we will be moving in a different direction with some elements of our Thursday Night Football open. We will be using our newly created Thursday Night Football theme music to open our game broadcast.”

That means no more Rihanna, who was initially set to promote CBS football all season.

Indeed. At the same time, we noticed that no one has mentioned the most ridiculous aspect of this story: appearances by a woman who became a well-known victim of domestic violence would have preceded discussions about an industry’s failure to address domestic violence.

Maybe CBS was right to let it go.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.