In what’s being called an “unprecedented” promotional push, CBS is putting its full heft behind getting viewers to watch “Thursday Night Football,” a high-profile addition to its prime-time schedule.
Variety reports that the network, which spent $275 million for the rights to the program, is determined to make sure the deal pays off.
“CBS was eager enough to get ‘Thursday Night Football’ to make what amounts to a ‘show me’ deal, where the network has to prove itself to the National Football League,” the publication reports. “It’s an unusual arrangement: CBS adds the most valuable weekly programming in American television to its prime-time lineup for the first time, while the NFL shrewdly enlists CBS to promote its own NFL Network.”
Said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus: “There hasn’t been an initiative at the CBS corporation in decades as large and all-encompassing as this one.”
He added: “Nothing has gotten the kind of promotion and branding that ‘Thursday Night Football’ has gotten, probably in the history of CBS.”
Variety reports that “TNF” has been “promoted across all dayparts of the CBS television network, CBS Radio, Showtime, owned-and-operated stations and independent affiliates. CBS football analysts are popping up in scripted series: Phil Simms on ‘Sherlock,’ Boomer Esiason on ‘Blue Bloods.’ Analyst Tony Gonzales appeared on ‘The Talk.’ There’s even an NFL category on ‘Jeopardy!’ throughout ‘TNF’s’ launch week.”
As dominant as NFL programming has been in the ratings, CBS apparently saw it as a no-brainer to bump its already strong Thursday prime-time lineup for seven weeks of NFL action.
Said McManus: “We’re dominant in prime time right now and we’re especially dominant on Thursday night, so to have the opportunity to extend that dominance was also a very attractive proposition for us.”
Variety adds: “Under this one-year deal, CBS will co-produce and co-brand the entire Thursday Night Football schedule. The games will be simulcast on CBS and NFL Network for seven consecutive weeks, starting Sept. 11. The next seven weeks have games on NFL Network only. The package concludes with two games on Dec. 20, one on NFL Network alone and the other simulcast. (Two Thursday night games are on NBC: the opening-night “NFL Kickoff” and Thanksgiving Night game.)”