NFL turns to CBS for Thursday games to maximize exposure, writer says

Thursday night football coming to CBS 01:53

The Super Bowl is over, but this fall you'll be able to catch eight games in primetime on Thursday nights on CBS as well as the regular Sunday schedule. The league announced the one-year agreement Wednesday.

 NFL writer for Sports Business Journal, Dan Kaplan, joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss what the deal means for the league and why they chose CBS. He told the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts that CBS got this deal because of “its strong primetime line-up.”

“The NFL wanted the most exposure for a Thursday night, which it’s trying to build into a bigger platform. Right now you have … Sunday night football and you have Monday night football. We’re all familiar with that,” said Kaplan. “Most people are not familiar with Thursday night football. So, they’re trying to create this next big platform.”

Kaplan told the co-hosts he was “absolutely” surprised that the contract was just a one-year deal.

“The contracts are usually anywhere between three – the current contracts for CBS, Fox and NBC are seven to eight years,” he said. “Clearly the NFL is trying to figure out what to do with this Thursday night package.”

Currently, Thursday night games are aired on the NFL Network, which Kaplan said was not as “successful as they would have liked.”  

“The distribution of the channel is not great. The viewership has not been great, at least by NFL standards,” he said. “They’re obviously not sure that this is the way they want to go. They want the cash, obviously, so they’re just doing the one-year deal with an option for a second year.”  

Kaplan also discussed why the NFL would move games away from their own network and to CBS.

“They’ve obviously made the choice that they’re going to make more money by cannibalizing some of these games,” he said. “The NFL Network - they’ve been trying to build it up. It’s a 10-year-old network. They’re trying to build it up with these games. The ratings, the distribution have not been as strong as they would have liked.”