The National Football League on Monday dismissed speculation that it is considering reducing its commitment to Thursday Night Football in the wake of disappointing ratings this season, Joe Flint, of Dow Jones Newswires reports.
In a statement, the league said, “we are fully committed to Thursday Night Football and any reports to the contrary are unfounded.” The NFL was responding to a story in Pro Football Talk that suggested there were discussions to cut the package after the 2017 season, which is when current deals with CBS and NBC are set to expire.
It’s unlikely the NFL would completely gut Thursday football. The league’s NFL Network TV channel is obligated by contracts with its cable and satellite partners to carry at least eight games a season and most of those are on Thursday. However, that does not mean the broadcast portion couldn’t be eliminated or shortened down the road.
The league has not approached either NBC or CBS to discuss the future of Thursday games, people familiar with the matter said.
The majority of the Thursday games have not been competitive and ratings have fallen, so there has been debate about whether there may be too much football on television. Teams that play on Thursday are usually doing so with less rest and preparation than if they were playing on Sunday, which has been suggested as a factor in the disappointing play. The league has even tried to heighten interest in Thursday by having the teams wear bright — some might say garish — uniforms.