Many of us spend our entire Sundays watching NFL games. There may be an occasional Monday night game to watch and a Thursday night one too if it includes one of our favorite teams. But for some, this end-of-week game appears to be more of a routine than originally thought as it now appears the league has taken notice. It has been reported that a second game may be added to the Thursday night schedule.
Currently, this game is offered on the NFL Network. It draws markets for those fans with participating teams but ratings lag behind the Sunday Night game on NBC or Monday Night Football on ESPN. Part of this is attributed to the NFL Network not being widely distributed.
NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell recently said of the network’s Thursday game via The Wall Street Journal, “People want to watch it and are excited about Thursday Night Football. It is our job to build Thursday Night Football and make it, ‘This is where you want to be on Thursday.”
With a possible second game added to Thursdays, it may not necessarily be on the NFL Network. A few options could include dropping some of its games without incurring a fall in affiliate fees charged to distributors that carry the network or it could get rid of all the games but it would have to renegotiate affiliate games.
So who would be interested in televising the Thursday games? Probably those cable sports networks on national TV. But there’s also a different possibility for them that is being explored: a nontraditional media partner such as Netflix Inc. or Google Inc., as recently reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The league has done something similar before with a nontraditional partner. This came in the 1990s with the satellite TV provider DirecTV, which established its NFL Sunday Ticket. This allows subscribers the opportunity to watch every NFL game during the season, differing from most viewers who can only catch games in their current market and the nationally televised ones.
Should the league go with Google Play or Netflix you can’t help but wonder if they would lose fans as these platforms are not commonly used by everyone. However, for these alternatives, it would only show the second Thursday NFL game.
For now, the NFL is exploring its options for mobile and online streaming. Verizon currently has the market on this as it owns the rights to NFL Mobile and streams the NFL Red Zone. Will the league go with something similar to this route or go off the board with a Netflix option?
But for no so fast…there’s no need to start freeing up your Thursday nights or getting a Netflix subscription. The league disputed reports last week that it was considering the expansion of Thursday games. You can’t help but wonder if this comes from worries of losing money to these alternative channels.