NFL Looking to Sell Thursday Night Games to Outside Network

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NEW YORK -- The NFL is talking to television networks about selling a package of Thursday night games.

"NFL Network has done a tremendous job building Thursday night and will retain games, but we are in discussions to air a part of the package with existing and potentially new broadcast and cable partners," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said Sunday.

NFL Network began airing an eight-game package in 2006, which increased to 13 in 2012. The league could sell some of those games to an outside network, starting as soon as next season.

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As the NFL keeps drawing monster TV ratings, any additional games are hugely appealing to networks. The competition for a potential package is even greater with the recent addition of cable channel Fox Sports 1 and NBC's attempts to grow NBCSN. Turner Sports also could be among the potential suitors.

While the viewership for Thursday night games has been significantly lower than for other packages, live sports are increasingly valuable in an age of DVRs and splintered audiences — and none more so than the NFL. The Thursday night games averaged 8 million viewers on NFL Network this past season, the day's most-watched program on cable TV each week.

"We want to accelerate the growth, quality and promotion of Thursday night NFL football," McCarthy said. "Bringing on a partner can help us accelerate our success across all the games."

The news was first reported by SportsBusiness Daily.

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