July 14, 2014 12:42pm PT by Marisa Guthrie
NBC Sports' Al Michaels: CBS' Thursday Night Football Won't Bring Overexposure
As CBS preps its upcoming broadcast of eight Thursday-night football games, NBC's lead NFL analyst Al Michaels addressed the overexposure question.
"That's been talked about for years," said Michaels, addressing reporters at the Sunday Night Football session at the Television Critics Association press tour on Monday. "The thing about Thursday night that's important to remember is Thursday Night Football has been on the air for a lot of years. You're basically just changing the carrier."
NFL Network has been airing the Thursday-night games since 2006. The CBS deal gives the network several early season games and a Saturday double-header in December. All the CBS games will be simulcast on the NFL Network with CBS Sports' lead play-by-play team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the entire Thursday-night schedule, including the games that are exclusive to NFL Network.
"It's the case in every sport," continued Michaels. "How much is too much? Right now, it's not too much. Yes, it will have to get to that point someday, but I don't think we're there yet."
NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus added that CBS' Thursday-night games adds less than 3 percent to the NFL ratings pool and said that if the NFL adds an additional night of football "down the line," then the overexposure question is a "legitimate" one.
"I cannot believe that we haven't reached the saturation level yet. But [football] is all-consuming," added Michaels' play-by-play partner Cris Collinsworth, who noted that the NFL is a year-round entity with free agency and the draft.
Sunday Night Football has been the No. 1 show on TV since 2011, when it first passed Fox's declining American Idol. But NBC is not resting on its laurels in the face of some primetime NFL competition from CBS. The network will pull out all the promotional stops for Sunday Night Football, including placing a spot with the new Carrie Underwood SNF open in 19,000 movie theaters beginning July 25. They also will simulcast five regular-season games and February's Super Bowl on young-skewing bilingual network mun2.