FOX CFO hints at dropping Thursday Night Football
The next wave of TV deals could indeed feature some changes.
Via Brian Steinberg of Sportico.com, FOX Corp. CFO Steve Tomsic recently hinted that Thursday Night Football may not remain in the company’s NFL broadcast-rights portfolio.
FOX currently has a Sunday afternoon package along with the Thursday night stand-alone game.
“If there is a choice between the two,” Tomsic said, the Sunday package “is absolutely core to our hearts. . . . The heritage of the company was built on Sunday afternoon football.”
The FOX broadcast network first appeared in the late 1980s, as a wannabe competitor with NBC, CBS, and ABC that few took seriously. The arrival in 1994 of the NFC-based Sunday package held for years and years by CBS marked a tectonic shift in the NFL’s broadcast packages, and it made FOX a legitimate major broadcast network.
TNF started as a late-season exclusive NFL Network vehicle. It then grew to include most of the season, with CBS simulcasting many of the games. Later, CBS and NBC split the package, which was sold on a short-term basis. Eventually, FOX swooped in and bought the rights through 2022, the current conclusion of all TV deals except Monday Night Football, which expires after the 2021 season.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding a reshuffling of the packages in the next wave of deals, but it’s expected that the current players — FOX, CBS, NBC, and ESPN — will have one or more packages when the dust settles.