Thursday Night Football is an expansion of the NFL broadcasting network. In 2006, telecasts were originally run through NFL Network’s Run to the Playoffs package, which consisted of eight total NFL games. Since 2012, the TNF package has started since the second week of the NFL season. That also includes the NFL Kickoff Game and NFL on Thanksgiving.
While Thursday Night Football has added at least one more round of games during the course of the regular season, it has been a highly controversial topic among NFL players. The league used the games as leverage to encourage television providers to carry NFL Network on their basic cable services. By adding a game in the middle of the week, it forced NFL players who played that week to exhibit short rest. Over the last 15 years, we have seen this grow into a norm week-to-week during the NFL season.
From 1978-1986, NFL Thursday games were occasionally broadcasted as part of the Monday Night Football package. Before signing a new contract, ESPN carried occasional games as well, but nothing was set in stone until 2005. The NFL negotiated a new set of television contracts and gave birth to Thursday Night Football full time in 2006. The games bounced around between titles of Thursday Night Football and Saturday Night Football, depending on the night it played. This carried through the 2007 season.
In 2008, the NFL wiped away all but one Saturday night game and started their Thursday night package three weeks earlier. In 2009, all Saturday Night Football references were dropped and were referred to expansions of Thursday Night Football. While popularity bounced around, it wasn’t until 2014 when TNF underwent a new branding effort.
Marketing To Major Networks
From 2014 to 2015, CBS broadcasted Thursday Night Football. The rights were originally negotiated for a one-year contract valued at $275 million. Then in January 2015, the contract was renewed for one-year, $300 million. CBS kept Thursday Night Football on the slate for one more season and then shared the rights with NBC and NFL Network in 2017.
CBS and NBC aired five games each, while NFL Network was given eight games, including six TNF contests. In addition, Twitter acquired non-exclusive worldwide digital streaming rights to 10 broadcast TNF games, while Amazon acquired streaming rights in 2017. Since 2018, FOX has broadcasted all TNF games and their contract runs through the 2022 season.
Week 14 Matchup: Patriots vs. Rams
Since COVID-19 cases spiked, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers game was moved to Wednesday. That means that there is no Thursday Night Football on Week 13. Fast forward to next week, the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in a game that will have ramifications for the Los Angeles franchise.
The Rams are battling the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West, while the Patriots are struggling to find their identity. If the Rams want to contend for a higher seed in the NFL playoff picture, the team is going to need to take care of the below-average Patriots.
Cam Newton is trying to audition for future 2021 teams and his stock took a dramatic hit against the Cardinals. Newton finished the game with just 55 passing yards, one interception rating, and a quarterback rating of 22.9. Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay is furthering that the six Super Bowl titles won by Brady and Bill Bellichick might have been influenced by quarterback play. If Newton suits up against the Rams defense, it could be another poor night for the former MVP.
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