The National Football League, America’s most popular sports league and home to the most popular programming on television, today reached an agreement with FOX Sports, the leader in live sports events, to broadcast the next five seasons of Thursday Night Football beginning with the 2018 season. The announcement was made together today by Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner and Peter Rice, President of 21st Century Fox.
“This agreement is the culmination of over 10 years of strategic growth around Thursday Night Football, a period during which this property has grown from a handful of late season games on NFL Network to a full season of games and one of the most popular shows on broadcast television with additional distribution via cable and digital channels,” said Goodell. “As one of the leaders in sports television and a recognized innovator of NFL game broadcasts for many years, we’re excited to be extending our partnership with FOX Sports, one of our most trusted and valued partners, to include Thursday Night Football.”
The agreement awards FOX Sports with a five year deal that includes 11 games between Weeks 4-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night) to be broadcast on FOX, simulcast via NFL Network, and distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes. In addition, NFL Network will exclusively televise seven games next season, with FOX producing the full slate of 18 games. As home to the No. 1 NFL package for the past 24 seasons, FOX Sports complements its current Sunday NFC package agreement with the addition of Thursday Night Football.
This landmark announcement allows FOX Sports and the NFL to each expand its digital rights, enabling the network to distribute both Thursday Night Football and its Sunday games to FOX subscribers over a wide array of digital platforms including mobile phones for the first time. The agreement also allows the NFL to further develop digital distribution models for Thursday Night Football as well as FOX’s Sunday games.
“Football is in our blood at FOX and we understand that nothing beats the NFL when it comes to television that captures people’s attention,” said Rice. “Our historic relationship with the NFL dates back to the earliest days of FOX, and we couldn’t be more excited to expand our deep and enduring partnership to include primetime games on Thursday night.”
The NFL is the most valuable content in all of sports with nine of television’s 10 most-watched programs of the calendar year in 2017. The 2017-18 FOX NFL regular season came to a close with AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK averaging 22,745,000 viewers which ranks as televisions No. 1 show for the ninth straight year. Additionally, FOX NFL KICKOFF (11:00 AM ET) and FOX NFL SUNDAY (12:00 PM ET) enter the 2018 season as the No. 1 NFL pregame shows in their respective time slots. The OT, FOX’s postgame show ranks 8th among prime time’s top-20 programs.
Presented by Bud Light, Thursday Night Football is a top-5 show in all of television and the No. 2 show in primetime. In securing the Thursday Night Football package, FOX now has 3 of the 5 most-watched shows in all of television (AGOTW; NFL Sunday singleheader; Thursday Night Football).
The power of an NFL audience is unmatched in television. Live sports programming will be a catalyst in providing a robust promotional platform for FOX’s entertainment programming during the NFL season.
This marks the fifth media rights deal between FOX Sports and the NFL dating back to the landmark agreement struck in December 1993 that essentially solidified FOX as a major broadcast network.
About FOX Sports
FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOX’s wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets. Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, FOX Sports includes ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing partnerships. FOX Sports includes the sports television arm of the FOX Broadcasting Company; FS1, FS2; FOX Sports Regional Networks, their affiliated regional web sites and national programming; FOX Soccer Plus; FOX Deportes and FOX College Sports. In addition, FOX Sports also encompasses FOX Sports Digital, which includes FOXSports.com and FOX Sports GO. Also included in the Group are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network and BTN 2Go, as well as a licensing agreement that established the FOX Sports Radio Network.
About Thursday Night Football
Thursday Night Football started in 2006 with an eight game schedule exclusively on NFL Network. By 2012, Thursday Night Football had grown to a 13-game schedule exclusively on NFL Network, where it remained through the 2013 season. For both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, CBS partnered with NFL Network to present an expanded 16-game Thursday Night Football schedule. For both the 2016 and 2017 seasons, NBC and CBS partnered with NFL Network to present Thursday Night Football with additional digital distribution via Twitter (2016 season) and Amazon Prime Video (2017 season).