In a case of the rich getting richer by spending a whole lot of money, CBS has acquired rights to broadcast eight Thursday night NFL games for next season.
NFL Network had reportedly been shopping a part of its Thursday night package, and they found a partner in CBS. CBS will get eight games, all early in the season (all of them to be simulcast on NFL Network), while NFL Network keeps the other eight (six of which will air on Thursday, two on Saturdays late in the season). It’ll be a full partnership, with CBS’ Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling all 16 games while NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured during pregame, halftime and postgame. The deal’s just for the 2014 season, with an additional year at the NFL’s option
Given the power of NBC’s Sunday night NFL package, which almost singlehandedly carried the Peacock into first place the last two falls, this should be a huge ratings boost for CBS. Yet at the same time, it will probably force the network to move its single most popular show, “The Big Bang Theory” to another night (back to Mondays? the latest CBS attempt to set up a Wednesday comedy lineup?), or else hold the “Big Bang” premiere until November. “Big Bang” is the highest-rated entertainment show on the broadcast networks, and Thursday is the most lucrative advertising night of the week, so CBS could find a way to leave it on Thursdays, delayed – or perhaps start it on a different night (maybe to help boost the premiere of “How I Met Your Dad” on Mondays?), then move it back to Thursday once football’s done. The show’s a monster, and people will find it.
This is tough news for NBC, which reportedly also wanted in on the Thursday package, and which does not have a pre-existing Thursday hit. (Weirdly, though, it could increase the odds of “Parks and Rec” and/or “Community” being renewed, because whatever NBC puts there in the fall will be crushed worse than ever, so why sacrifice something new?) It’s also, I believe, the first time one network has had two different NFL packages at the same time.
What does everybody else think?