NFL Denies Speculation About ‘Thursday Night Football’ Ending Amid Ratings Slump

Panthers Saints Thursday Night Football NBC
Jacob Kupferman/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

The NFL is looking to throw cold water on speculation that the “Thursday Night Football” TV franchise could end or be significantly pared down after the 2017-18 season.

The league on Monday issued a statement denying any such plans, following a report Sunday on NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk website.

“We are fully committed to ‘Thursday Night Football’ and any reports to the contrary are unfounded,” the NFL said in a statement.

The speculation about “Thursday Night Football” have a short run on broadcast TV comes as the NFL is grappling with significant ratings declines for its primetime showcases on NBC, ESPN and for the “Thursday Night Football” games shared as of this season by CBS and NBC. The Thursday games air simultaneous on the NFL Network and on Twitter.

The league’s NFL Network cabler relies on the Thursday as the leverage to demand carriage by MVPDs. But there’s much been talk this season about whether TV is over-saturated with pro football games. There’s also been a great deal of armchair-punditry about the quality of the Thursday match-ups this season.

CBS had the broadcast rights to “Thursday Night Football” for its first two seasons. The league split the package of 10 games between CBS and NBC in a two-year deal for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Twitter is also a new entrant this season as the league seeks to expand its reach in the digital realm.

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  1. Ivan says:

    The actual time that egg is actually moving per game is 11 minutes…so you sit through 4 hours of Bud Light and Burger King commercials for 11 minutes of ‘action’…lol, maybe people are finally figuring out that grand advertisement scheme called the NFL…better late then never!

  2. Eyeroll says:

    NFL ratings are down across the entire spectrum from SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on NBC, to MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on ESPN, to THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on CBS and NBC. But to debunk the notion that NFL ratings are somehow at a point where networks no longer want to buy Thursday night games all one has to do is look at the fantastic ratings for the Thanksgiving Day game on NBC last Thursday night. NFL ratings are still huge. They consistently blow away the competition. CBS and NBC won’t let a winner like Thursday Night Football slip out of their hands just because the ratings are slightly down. Many factors are playing a part in the slight downturn; political unrest and protests by NFL stars met with a minority of outraged fan dissent; a lack of compelling/ must watch Thursday night games; stagnation in viewer interest due to the rich get richer nature of NFL football which results in the same three or four teams always dominate coverage thus thwarting growth and interest. The underdog never emerges with a fighting chance. It’s the same stagnation we’ve seen with women’s college basketball which never grows but in fact has been losing more and more of the tiny fraction of the tv audience it still has at the moment due to a saturation of UCONN women’s basketball coverage and national titles that are basically uncontested blowouts. At some point the national TV audience reaches a WHO CARES point. NFL games are far from going there but they are headed in the wrong direction. It should be noted though that most college games didn’t set the ratings on fire this year as they have done in the past either. College football ratings have been on a downward trend as well and the current setup of the National playoff picture looks like more of the same old boring football teams that we see every January. Just give ALABAMA their trophy and the New England Patriots their trophy, Saben and Brady their trophies, and we can skip the annual crowning in January and February.

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