CBS to Broadcast Eight Thursday Night Games Starting This Fall

SimmsIn a surprise announcement (“surprise” only in the sense that it came today; this had been brewing for awhile now) the NFL and CBS will be partnering for Thursday Night Football games this fall. Eight games early in the season will be broadcast on CBS and the NFL Network simultaneously; the remaining eight games will be shown exclusively on the NFL Network, but will be produced by CBS Sports and feature CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Those Thursday games had previously been on the NFL Network, with the exception of the NBC-aired season opener; according to this Los Angeles Times report, NBC will still have the season opening game. (That report also mentions that NBC will still air the Thanksgiving night game.)

It’s a bit convoluted, to be sure. Complicating things further, the release notes that “NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with CBS Sports announcers.” Because if there’s one thing that NFL pre- and post-game shows need, it’s more people involved. According to a report from Awful Announcing, Nantz and Simms will still be involved in Sunday games as well; I’d assume they’d do weekends that feature a national doubleheader on CBS, taking the late-game national window. (Awful Announcing thinks something similar.)

The deal also features a return of late-season Saturday games; those had been absent since 2012, as Pro Football Talk notes. There will apparently be a Saturday doubleheader in Week 16 (which falls on December 2oth this season.)

Finally, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio brings up the revenue/salary cap angle of this announcement. According to his report, the winning bid from CBS was likely near $300 million; that is obviously extra revenue that the league will take in, and that revenue will be applied to the salary cap calculations for the 2015 league year. Meaning the cap is going to increase, meaning teams will have more room to spend. (His report estimates an increase of about $7-8 million per team, but that’s obviously a very rough estimate at this point.) Again, that won’t be in effect until 2015 (the cap is calculated based on the prior year’s league revenues) but teams can certainly construct contracts this offseason with that near-future increase in mind.

My main concern with this move is that it further entrenches the Thursday night model; those games were often rough to watch, due to player fatigue and a limited week of preparation. Teams and players hate playing Thursday games, and during the 2013 season there was even a slight swell of support towards ending the practice; that was obviously never going to happen, thanks to the money involved. Hopefully things get better, or it might be time to consider a new scheduling model that gives teams playing on Thursday nights a second bye prior to the game. (That’s just one possible solution; I’m certainly open to more.)


Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

9 responses to “CBS to Broadcast Eight Thursday Night Games Starting This Fall”

  1. Patrick W.

    I really like Mike Mayock and I hope he gets a gig somewhere.

    1. mdavis

      eh i differ from you there. Mayock, for whatever reason, just kinda bugs me. Can’t pinpoint what it is but just does ha. I’m a big fan of Aikman though, and Trent Dilfer I think is excellent…could be the QB thing.

    2. abe

      He he is the color guy for the Notre Dame home games on NBC.

      1. Patrick W.

        I don’t like him THAT much!

  2. ssckelley

    I love the Thursday night games, the more televised football the better in my book. Perhaps the NFL can take the extra money and expand the rosters to help accommodate the player fatigue that results from playing in those games.

    1. mdavis

      right, its certainly part of the hypocrisy of the NFL. all about player safety, yet they want 18 games. want player safety, but make teams play the short turnaround Thurs game…

      but i digress. While the Thursday game is tough for each team health wise, at the same time its also a built in mini bye for the following week. so it kind of goes both ways.

  3. Cubbiekoolaid2015

    After going through a lot of video of potential draft picks, the needs of the team, the potential losses to free agency, and the potential additions through free agency, I came up with what I think is an ideal offseason for the Bears.

    First off, resign Peanut. The guy is the heart and soul of the the Bears and needs to finish his career in Chicago. Then resign Garza, Melton, Ratliff, and McCown.

    Next, make the tough decision to cut Peppers. He just takes up way to much cap space and is on the wrong side of 30.

    With the freed up money sign one of Jarius Byrd or TJ Ward + a DT/DE(preferably Marty’s Brother Michael)

    Then comes the draft. I’ve seen a lot of the experts having us pick a DL in the first round… While I would have no problem with the Bears drafting a Jernigan, or a Louis Nix, I think the best selection at #14 would be S Ha Ha Clinton Dix. After watching a lot of tape, I think Clinton Dix could be an all-pro safety with great skills in the pass and run game. I see a young Ed Reed with maybe a little less speed. The Seahawks proved you can build from the outside-in. Why can’t we?… Plus, do we really want a guy with that much potential to slip to the Packers?

    After the first round it may be a pipe dream but I’d love to see the Bears swoop up Notre Dame DT/DE Stephon Tuitt in the second round. Then in the third possibly Chicago’s own NIU safety Jimmy Ward. Don’t let the 5’11 height fool you. This kid has a chance to be special, but should slip due to size, and lack of high level competition.

    4th round I’d like to see Stanford LB Shayne Skov be the pick. Skov could be a real steal wherever he goes. I’m hoping it’s to the Bears. 5th round Alabama OLB/DE Adrian Hubbard. This pick would be in the anticipation that the Bears could be changing to a 3-4.

    6th round I’m going to finally go away from the all defense theme and take a chance. TE Colt Lyerla from Oregon. Lyerla’s issues are well documented but his upside may be far to much to pass up on in the 6th round if he’s still their. A 6-5, 250 athletic freak could be a nice backup piece to Martellus Bennett… On the other hand, Emery may not take another chance on a guy like Lyerla after what happened with Evan Rodriguez. We’ll see.

    Last but not least, make another tough decision and make Marquess Wilson the starting slot receiver ahead of Earl Bennett… That’s what I would call an outstanding offseason.

    1. frank

      Very interesting plan–I agree with your re-signings, though Melton would have to come at much less than the money he’s making now. I think Wootton should be resigned as well. I’d love to see Byrd or Ward here, especially if they do draft Clinton-Dix, but Michael Bennett has pretty much said he’s not leaving Seattle.

      The problem with cutting Peppers is where do you get even the 7.5 sacks he provided? Seattle built from the outside in, but their defensive line is far superior to that of the Bears–they didn’t have world-beating sack numbers but they could pressure the QB. The Bears can’t do that. Put 4 all pros in the defensive backfield and they’ll get burned like toast unless you have at least a little pressure up front. Plus, if you cut Peppers and don’t re-sign Wootton, you’ll need to sign or draft ends for numbers alone.

      I like your draft, but I don’t know if all of those players will be there in the rounds in which you have the Bears drafting them, especially Tuitt and Skov. Right now, there’s not much indication that the Bears plan to move to a 3-4, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they played a hybrid. A lot of people are clamoring for a 3-4, but it all comes down to personnel–a 3-4 can be played just as poorly as 4-3 can. And with the Bears’ personnel, a switch to 3-4 would likely take 3 seasons. New Orleans did it quickly, but they already had a half dozen key players in place who fit a 3-4. The Bears don’t have that.

      All in all, a thought-provoking plan–thanks.

      1. Cubbiekoolaid2015

        I forgot about Wootton. Good catch. If my scenarios played out and happened as planned then I would definitely want Wootton resigned. That would give the Bears a D-line of Tuitt, Melton, Ratliff, Wooton, a FA, Hubbard, and maybe Shea if we do decide to go to a 3-4 or hybrid defense. It’s not great but I think it could be an improvement from last year.