CBS Sports Chief Talks NFL’s Split Network Proposal For ‘Thursday Night Football’

Sean McManus CBS Sports
Courtesy of CBS

CBS Sports chief Sean McManus has confirmed reports that the NFL is considered shifting “Thursday Night Football” TV rights to a package that would split among multiple networks.

Sports Business Journal on Monday reported that the league is considering a new approach to the Thursday games that would see them shift among multiple networks. That would certainly be less desirable for the networks from a promotional and logistical standpoint.

McManus on Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour said the NFL asked for proposals for an exclusive rights deal similar to the past two years and for a split package “where networks would share the first eight weeks of the season.” The NFL is believed to be sticking to another one-year deal rather

McManus said the proposals were requested in late December. “We’re in a wait-and-see period,” he said. “We haven’t heard anything back,” he said when pressed for a timetable on the dealmaking. He told reporters he had been given no indication of a time frame from the NFL, although he noted that the contract has been finalized shortly after the Super Bowl during the past two years.

“We’d like to renew ‘Thursday Night Football,'” he said. “It’s been a big success.”

McManus wouldn’t comment on his opinion about the possibility of the package being carved up among networks. “Whatever they do is all about increasing the viewership and the promotion and the destination-viewing of ‘Thursday Night Football.’ “

CBS announcer Jim Nantz added: “Whatever Sean is able to work out we’ll be glad to do.”

McManus told reporters after the session that the league was also pushing networks to “be aggressive in offering new promotional and programming opportunities” to augment “Thursday Night Football.”

On the big question of price, McManus wouldn’t speculate. CBS paid an estimated $300 million for the eight-game package in 2015. The price is likely to rise for 2016 with more NBCUniversal and Fox in the hunt. “I’ve never seen an NFL contract that’s gone down in value,” McManus quipped.

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