The NFL won’t be playing more Thursday night games. But the NFL will be making more money for the Thursday night games it plays.
According to John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, the league could sell an eight-game package to an outside network by 2015 or 2016.
The games, per Ourand, could fetch up to $700 million per year.
To get to eight games being exported, the league would expand the total Thursday and Saturday package to 16 games, leaving eight on NFLN. The deal also could include a wild-card game — which likely would come from the two new wild-card games that would arise from an expansion of the postseason to 14 teams.
Networks believed to be interested in the package include Turner, NBCSN, and FS1. ESPN, which pays nearly $2 billion per year for Monday Night Football and has a full inventory of college football rights, would gain little by adding Thursday night NFL games, since the monthly subscription fee likely wouldn’t increase much higher than it already is.