The NFL will continue its partnership with CBS to produce and broadcast Thursday Night Football for the 2016 season, but NBC will also be getting a piece of the pie.
The NFL announced Monday that it had agreed to a two-year deal with CBS and NBC. Each network will air five Thursday matchups each in 2016 and 2017, increasing the number of games on traditional broadcast TV from eight to 10 per season. Those games will be simulcast on NFL Network and NFL Network will televise eight games exclusively, which will include late-season Saturday matchups and other to-be-determined games, as was the case in 2015.
Both CBS and NBC will produce Thursday Night Football with their lead broadcasters and production teams, and both will contribute to the production of Thursday Night Football exclusively on NFL Network. CBS and NFL Network will televise the first half of the Thursday Night Football schedule with NBC and NFL Network televising the second half.
According to CNBC Now, both NBC and CBS will pay nearly half a billion dollars for the rights to the game.
BREAKING: NFL reaches deal with CBS and NBC for Thursday Night Football; fees for Thursday night rights will be roughly $450M - Dow Jones— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) February 1, 2016
This past season, the NFL Network and CBS split the broadcasting rights for the games as both networks simultaneously broadcasted the first eight TNF games of the 2015 season. Then the NFL Network broadcast the final eight TNF games of the 2016 season, though two of them were special broadcasts on Saturday night.
To this point, NBC has only been broadcasting Sunday Night Football games in addition to the regular-season opener, which was a special edition of SNF. Now, NBC will get to air as many as two games in a given week during the regular season.
Getting to air NFL games in any manner is big for TV networks as pro football games are often among the highest-rated shows each week. Per Variety.com, the eight games shown on both CBS and the NFL Network in 2015 were the most-watched program on TV on the night it ran, and saw between 14.8 million to more than 21 million viewers each week.
Simply put, the NFL dominates TV ratings, so this is a big addition for NBC, not to mention the NFL getting their product on another network more frequently. With the league already having 5-8 NFL games broadcasted on CBS every Sunday, NBC is now getting a bigger slice of the pie.