The price tag, about 30 percent more than Amazon paid for the rights last season, underscores how the online retailer values sportscasts as a way to attract people to its lucrative loyalty club Prime, which offers video streaming and speedy delivery. More than million people pay for Prime globally, and members tend to shop more on Amazon, boosting profit.
Prior to the new contract, ESPN carried a handful of sporadic Thursday night games usually those displaced from Sunday night and the broadcast networks used to air several national games on Saturday afternoons in mid-to-late December after the college football regular season ended.
Incidentally, the only reason the league is even allowed to televise football games on Saturday night stems from a legal loophole: the league's antitrust exemption, the Sports Broadcasting Act of , was written when the NFL regular season ended in mid-December, and as such, it contains specific language that prohibits televising NFL games in most markets on Friday nights and all day on Saturdays between the second week of September and the second week of December, to protect high school and college football.
Since most high school and college seasons have ended by mid-December, other than bowl games , there has been little desire to close this loophole, even though the regular season has expanded well beyond mid-December since the law's passage.
The channel was added, but NFL Network decided to air the games itself, foregoing a rights fee. Each of the game broadcasts were titled either Thursday Night Football or Saturday Night Football, depending on the night on which it aired.
This format carried over to the season. Starting in , NFL Network eliminated all but one of the Saturday night games and started their Thursday night package three weeks earlier.
Titans vs. The key for Thursday night's game will be Pittsburgh's offense against Tennessee's defense.
This was done to accommodate the earlier schedule and the league's antitrust exemption that prohibits Saturday games from being held for most of the season.
During Super Bowl week in , it was announced that the Thursday Night Football package would expand from eight to 13 games and air on NFL Network, again soliciting and rejecting offers from Turner Sports and Comcast.
The league had negotiated with its existing broadcast partners, along with Turner Sports. The first eight games of the season were simulcast nationally on NFL Network and CBS; the remaining games in the package only aired nationally on NFL Network, but per league broadcast policies, were simulcast on local stations in the participating teams' markets.
During the games, a distinct graphics package co-branded with both CBS and NFL Network logos is used, certain players on each team wear microphones, and 4K cameras are used to allow zoom-in shots during instant replays.
Among these changes were the removal of an introductory segment featuring Rihanna who was similarly assaulted by fellow performer Chris Brown in performing her song " Run This Town ".
The league was also reportedly interested in selling non-exclusive digital rights to simulcast the games to another partner, such as Amazon.
CBS and NBC would each air five games resulting in a schedule of 10 games on broadcast TV in comparison to 8 under the previous deal , followed by an additional eight games exclusively on NFL Network to satisfy NFL Network's retransmission consent contracts with cable providers; the eight NFL Network-exclusive games included six Thursday contests, a Sunday morning International Series contest, and a Christmas day game.
As with the previous contract, all games will be simulcast by NFL Network. Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the league was "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.
The collaboration will also include streaming content on Twitter's Periscope service, such as behind the scenes access. On April 4, , it was announced that Amazon.
The streams will be exclusive to paid Prime subscribers. NBC Sports had previously switched to a skycam-only presentation for portions of two Sunday night games earlier that season because of fog and smoke and, sixteen years prior, during its coverage of the XFL ; positive reaction to the impromptu change prompted NBC to experiment with using the strategy for the full game.
Both Fox and Fox Sports 1 were named as potential outlets for the package in the Fox Sports bid, which was intended to showcase Fox 's continued commitment to sports after the sale of its entertainment businesses to ESPN's majority-owner The Walt Disney Company which excluded the Fox network itself and Fox Sports' national operations, such as FS1, among other assets.
CBS and NBC were also considering renewing their existing contracts, but had requested a lower rights fee to compensate for the decreasing viewership of the NFL TNF had been cited as one factor in the downturn, due to a perceived oversaturation of nationally-televised games.
It was also reported that the NFL would also allow digital companies to make bids for exclusive rights to the Thursday Night Football package which forego a television partner entirely, unlike the previous non-exclusive deals with Twitter and Amazon.
The Fox network will air 11 games per season in simulcast with NFL Network, and will also produce the games exclusive only to NFL Network and their syndicated partners in the markets of each team.
Resources are also being shared with Fox News Channel in New York City, including use of its Studio F for studio segments, as well as an outdoor plaza setup on Sixth Avenue with a scaled football field and an audience.
The telecasts are distributed via the Fox Sports app, Prime Video, and to participating television providers. HDR is only supported through television providers, but Fox stated that HDR and surround sound support would be enabled via streaming "soon".
However, due to a clause in Dish's carriage agreement that forbade the channel from performing provider-specific programming substitutions, NFL Network forewent the simulcast entirely and made the game exclusive to Fox making it the first Thursday Night Football game to not air in some capacity on NFL Network.
In , Collinsworth replaced Vermeil alongside Gumbel for all games.
Gumbel left the network after the season and his then-HBO colleague Bob Papa , who is also the radio voice of the New York Giants , was brought in to replace him. Collinsworth stayed on until the end of the season, then left to take over for the retiring John Madden as lead analyst on NBC Sunday Night Football.
As a result of CBS taking over production responsibilities for the Thursday Night Football broadcasts, its number one broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms took over the broadcast booth.
NBC had initially hired former Monday Night Football play-by-play man Mike Tirico for Thursdays before the league nixed the idea of any separate broadcast teams for Sunday and Thursday nights.
Tirico would eventually call three Sunday Night Football games, including the Thanksgiving night game which is in the SNF package, in order for NBC to allow Michaels over a week's rest before the end of the season.
Numerous complications needed to be resolved, namely Romo's reluctance to cover both Sunday and Thursday nights as required under the Thursday Night Football contract,  and the fact that Simms remains under contract with CBS through the next several years.
For , none of Fox's scheduled MLB playoff broadcasts landed on a Thursday Fox carried the NLCS and the World Series that year , so Buck continued to broadcast both sports, crisscrossing the country in seven cities over a day period.
Eastern Time during its games. During the season, Ian Eagle called play-by-play, with Tony Boselli handling color analysis and Hub Arkush as the sideline reporter.
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