For the first time, the NFL has agreed to a long-term deal with a network partner for Thursday Night Football.
After years of annual negotiations for the Thursday night package, the league announced this morning that it has reached a five-year deal with FOX for Thursday Night Football.
“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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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.”
FOX will air 11 games each season between Week Four and Week 15. Games will continue to be simulcast on NFL Network, and will also air in Spanish on Fox Deportes. NFL Network will also air seven games per year exclusively and those games will be produced by FOX. The Week One Thursday night game and the Thanksgiving night game will remain on NBC.
The league also announced that Thursday Night Football will be “Presented by Bud Light.” It was not clear from the announcement whether that also represents a five-year deal.
With this agreement, FOX is all-in on the NFL: Between Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights, football will be by far the most important and popular programming on FOX for years to come.