The NFL reportedly reached agreements with CBS and NBC on Monday to split broadcasts for Thursday Night Football starting with the 2016 season and running through 2017.
According to John Ourand of the SportsBusiness Journal, the two networks will each have five games, with the NFL receiving nearly $500 million in the deal. He added the league will continue to look for a separate digital distribution deal for Thursday night games.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said the following in a statement, per NFL.com:
We are continuing to make Thursday Night Football bigger and better. CBS has played an integral role over the last two seasons in helping build Thursdays as a night for NFL football, and we're excited to have them on board again. At the same time, we're thrilled to add NBC to the Thursday Night Football mix, a trusted partner with a proven track record of success broadcasting NFL football in primetime, and look forward to expanding with a digital partner for what will be a unique tri-cast on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms.
According to Variety's Brian Steinberg, the league had the option of renewing its previous deal with CBS for another season. Under those terms, CBS and NFL Network shared broadcasting rights for the first eight TNF games, and NFL Network retained exclusive rights for the final eight matchups.
While TNF doesn't carry nearly the same broad appeal that NBC's Sunday Night Football or ESPN's Monday Night Football do, the Hollywood Reporter's Marisa Guthrie wrote major networks were still likely to engage in a bidding war for the television rights.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the league is "also in active talks with prospective digital partners for OTT streaming rights to Thursday Night Football," adding an announcement is "expected soon."
With few sports properties up for grabs, TNF presented network executives with a unique opportunity in the current market. ESPN's Trey Wingo alluded to the fact interest in the NFL isn't declining, which will ensure TNF remains a fixture of the public's viewing schedule:
Under the terms of the new deal, fans will be able to see two more games on one of the major networks, which is a major boon for those who don't have NFL Network in their current channel lineup.