The Wall Street Journal published a report Tuesday night that said Fox was nearing a deal to pay significantly more than the $450 million present rights holders CBS and NBC were paying this season, according to people familiar with aspects of the deal. The WSJ reports that an announcement could be made as early as Wednesday.
Last year, CBS and NBC paid a combined $450 million to air 10 games and both were interested in retaining the rights to TNF but not willing to get into a bidding war.
Fox’s aggressive play for Thursday Night Football will add more NFL games to its primetime schedule despite falling viewership for games, with ratings down 9.7 percent this past regular season.
The strategic need for more bankable content also comes as Fox’s parent group, 21st Century Fox, is looking to offload its movie and TV studio, cable TV assets including FX and National Geographic, as well as its international business to Disney in a $52.4 billion deal subject to regulatory clearance.
If the Disney deal is cleared, Fox will be left with the news network, broadcast and its sports offerings.