CBS and NFL Talk 'Thursday Night Football' Future
Leslie Moonves talks about using fall's eight games to woo the league into a long-term deal, while commissioner Roger Goodell is adamant that some games stay on the NFL Network.
CBS is still romancing the NFL to a certain extent. Five months after scoring the enviable broadcast rights to share eight Thursday Night Football games with the NFL network — at a $275 million price tag — the network is trying to parlay the run into a long-term deal.
"We knew going in this is a one-year deal," says CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves. "It's our job to show the NFL what we do and how great this can be. We're confident that after this year, they'll sit down and give us a longer deal."
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Moonves made a rare appearance at the Television Critics Association summer press tour to help hype his acquisition, a passion project, and he was joined by CBS Sports' Sean McManus, New England Patriots' Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell, more reserved in his enthusiasm, made sure to emphasize that the split with the NFL Network is not intended to slow the growth of the league's cable effort — by far the lowest-rated venue for TV's most-watched sport.
"We believe very much in the NFL network as a strategic asset," said Goodell, "and i fully believe going forward we'll have games on the NFL Network. ... We have not made a determination beyond the one-year. We made a short-term decision in what we think is a long-term strategy.
The NFL Network may not see the audience that CBS will inevitably get on Thursdays during the first half of the season, but it will share in the slick upgrade to the graphics and production. McManus touted new 4K cameras hovering over the sidelines and unveiled a sizzle reel of what the coverage will look like come September.
Overexposure seems to remain a nonconcern for all as far as football. Though its increasing footprint in primetime does prompt the question.
"When everybody talks about overexposure, there clearly isn't," said Moonves. "The NFL gets incredible advertising rates. It's no coincidence that Time Warner Cable settled their deal with us six days before the season began [last year]."
Having Goodell in the room prompted a slew of non-TV related queries from reporters, including his thoughts on the highly-publicized concussion crisis — "The game of football has never been safer than it is today" — and their ongoing partnership with DirecTV. The satellite provider's NFL Sunday Ticket remains the most significant out-of-market sports package on American TV.
"Every time we get to the point of renegotiating our Sunday Ticket package, we look at other alternatives," said Goodwell, noting that there will soon be other alternatives for fans who want video content focused on their favored teams. "We are very excited about something we're launching this year called NFL Now. For fans, they can pretty much dictate what they get from a video standpoint."