Fox Reportedly Nearing TV Rights Deal for NFL's Thursday Night Football Games

Report: Thursday Night Football is heading to Fox next season

The agreement allows the NFL to further develop digital-distribution models for Thursday Night Football as well as for Fox's Sunday games. The viewership remains large enough to command huge contracts, and in fact, Fox's Thursday Night Football deal is reportedly much larger than CBS and NBC's before it. CBS, Fox and NBC are already paying the NFL a whopping $27.9 billion between 2014 and 2022 to air Sunday-afternoon games on CBS and Fox and "Sunday Night Football" on NBC. Amazon paid a total of $50 million for rights to Thursday Night Football on their digital service previous year, Twitter owning rights previously in 2016.

CBS and NBC paid a total of $450 million last season for the rights to air a combined package of ten games that was split among both networks.

Adding the Thursday-night games will only increase Fox's reliance on football. The games are expected to pick up a digital partner as well.

The top Fox broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will not call the TNF games, sources told Sports Business Daily. According to the Standard Media Index, Thursday night contributes about 20% of the gross ad spend revenue from in-season games and revenue in 2017 declined 3% compared with 2016, even as paid unit rates rose 7%.

National Football League ratings may have been down this season but the price to broadcast the games continues to rise to record highs.

The Thursday night slate has been controversial among players, who have complained about the toll it takes on them physically, and many have complained about a lesser quality of play in those games.

"Football is in our blood at FOX and we understand that nothing beats the NFL when it comes to television that captures people's attention", Peter Rice, the president of 21st Century Fox, said in a statement. NBC and CBS have each lost about $150 million a year on the Thursday night games.

But Fox's interest - and the NFL's payday - illustrate why the package will remain a part of the league's offerings.

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