Thursday Night Doubleheaders On The Horizon?
By Brett Spielberg
While NFL players, and apparently viewers, are not entirely thrilled with Thursday Night Football games, the league is eager to become even more competitive on one of the most consistently competitive nights in television.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the NFL is “disappointed” with the NFL Network due to low ratings, particularly for Thursday night games. Instead of eliminating the Thursday games however, they intend to possibly add a second and turn it into a doubleheader.
To its credit, the NFL has adamantly denied this report, stressing that there would not be two Thursday night games.
But one owner with inordinate power said otherwise.
Jerry Jones, the chairman of the NFL Network Committee, added more than a bit of fuel to the fire with his recent statement.
“We could easily have a doubleheader on Thursday,” Jones told Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusinessDaily.com. “I don’t think that is out of the realm of thought, we haven’t set up how we will do it.”
He did qualify his statement a day later and stressed that these were only his opinions and not of the league as a whole. This is, of course, just Jones hedging against the backlash that he is well aware he caused.
The NFL is a juggernaut of a moneymaker, but Thursday night games have been detrimental to competition, above all else. If they aren’t making money, it makes more sense to get rid of them than to expand them. However, with the CBA just behind us, these revenue figures cannot simply drop hundreds of millions overnight. If the NFL is to cancel its Thursday programming, there will need to be an alternative to compensate for lost revenue.
Why not two Monday night games every week then? The West Coast wouldn’t mind the second game, and I’m sure plenty of East Coast homes have DVRs.
Or how about a Sunday night doubleheader on NBC? A 5 p.m. and the typical 8:30 p.m. could slot in nicely. While the night game doesn’t have to deal with competition, the evening game would be up against at least one game in every market, something that NBC (or whoever would own the rights) would likely protest and force a renegotiation.
But this really comes down to the NFL network itself. With so much sports television, maybe America just doesn’t need the NFL to have its own channel. But don’t tell that to Jerry Jones, he’s already planned out Thursday doubleheaders starting in 2015.