Fox Snags NFL's Thursday Night Football Through 2022
Fox has signed a deal to broadcast 11 Thursday night NFL games a year for the next five years. The Thursday night broadcasts from week 4 to week 15 (not counting Thanksgiving) is worth an average of more than $660 million a year or $60 million per game. The deal is a larger package than the last two agreements. CBS paid $37.5 million per game for eight games in 2014 and 2015. The last two seasons NBC and CBS split five games each at $45 million per game. The remaining Thursday Night games air on the NFL Network.
Along with the deal, Fox gets some expanded digital rights, but the full digital rights to the broadcast remain available. In 2016 Twitter paid $10 million a game while last year Amazon Prime paid $50 million a game. The new digital rights deal should be done in the next few weeks in partnership with Fox.
Thursday games have been a bit controversial the last few seasons though as players speak out against them, arguing the shorter rest period between games increases the number of injuries. In November of 2017, Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks tore his Achillies tendon on a Thursday night game, sparking even more debate against the mid-week games. League data showed that last years the number of injuries per game was 6.3 while for a Thursday night game it was 6.9. This is up from 6.5 in 2016 where the non-Thursday number stayed the same.
There has been a lot of talk that the ratings for NFL games were down in 2017, and that is true. Regular season games were down 9.7 percent or 1.6 million fewer people. But that comes after an 8 percent drop in 2016. A typical broadcast still brought in an average of 14.9 million viewers and 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows in 2017 were NFL broadcasts.
Fox currently broadcasts Sunday NFC games and has been doing so since 1994. They're paying $1.1 billion a year for those game through 2022.