FOX defends investment in Thursday Night Football

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Not long after complaining about the impact of Thursday Night Football on his network’s Sunday NFL programming, FOX CEO James Murdoch is now defending the decision to commit billions to the product over the next five years.

“As the scarcity value of large audiences coming together around national events continues to rise, we want to be the home of that kind of compelling product,” Murdoch said during a FOX earnings call, according to the Wall Street Journal (via SportsBusiness Journal).

That may be a tough sell for FOX shareholders, given that FOX has seen sharply reduced revenue for its sports programming, thanks to lower ratings for both the NFL and the World Series. Regardless, FOX believes that the annual investment (either $550 million or $660 million per year, given the conflicting reports), which will help FOX win the ratings battle for any Thursday it has a game and boost the rest of the lineup, is worth it.

Despite its impact on other NFL programming, TNF is here to stay. So FOX realized that it could either overpay to grab the property, or watch one of its competitors land it. The motivation to generate a profit apparently became a secondary concern.