Beginning with this upcoming season, the NFL schedule will now feature a Thursday Night game on a weekly basis, with 16 games in total. More specifically, there will be 14 games on Thursday, with two Thursday Night Football games taking place on Saturday late in the season.
In addition to the increase in the number of games, the NFL is taking significant steps to grow the NFL franchise.
In addition to putting their top anchor team (in their opinion, I might add) on the dock for every Thursday night game, the league has also come to a one-year agreement with CBS to simulcast the first eight games on the major network as well as on NFL Network.
The partnership is significant for both sides. Despite being the most widely viewed comedy show on television, for example, the games will conflict with the normally scheduled airing time of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, whose eighth season begins at around the same time.
Accordingly, CBS will be moving the show to Mondays for the duration of the Thursday night broadcasts on the network, as an indication of how big the deal is for both sides. The deal includes a second-year option on the league’s behest.
As part of the promotion of the new TNF rollout, the relevant parties gathered yesterday—fittingly on a Thursday—to discuss the new joint venture, including commissioner Roger Goodell, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and CBS CEO Leslie Moonves.
For his part, Moonvies stated that CBS is confident the league will want to partner with the network long-term following this season, which would obviously be a benefit for viewers who do not currently have the NFL Network.
Still, there is no shortage of complaints from players, coaches, owners, and fans about Thursday night games. Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of talking up of the positive qualities of the rare mid-week games.
Goodell, for instance, pointed to a slight decrease in the risk of injuries during Thursday night games. Of course, the sample size to support that claim remains small.
Additionally, it ignores the fact that the short week makes it difficult for ailing players to recover quickly enough to be able to play during the primetime games, or to be able to play at a level worthy of the timeslot.
There have been suggestions made to make Thursday games coincide with a team’s Bye Week the week prior to give them the appropriate resting time, but the logistics would be overly complicated and likely would require adjusting the system used to schedule the off weeks to begin with.
Kraft also made the argument that the short weeks benefit the well-prepared teams, making it a greater incentive for teams to have their players ready to go. The extended week following the game is also an added bonus, almost a half of an off week.