Fox outspends NBC, CBS for sole broadcast rights to NFL’s Thursday Night Football: report

NFL
Fox’s reported new NFL deal comes in addition to the rights the network already holds for Sunday games and the Superbowl. (Josh Hallett/Flickr)

Fox Broadcasting has reportedly beat out NBC and CBS for TV rights to NFL’s Thursday Night Football by upping the price paid for the previous two seasons.

According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, Fox is spending about $550 million per season for the next five years, a price tag that outpaces the $450 million that NBC and CBS split for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. NBC and CBS each got five games. Under Fox’s new deal, it will air 11 Thursday games per season alongside the NFL Network, which will carry a yet undetermined amount of Thursday games.

Fox Sports today issued a press release confirming the new agreement with the NFL. But the companies did not reveal the financial terms of the deal.

Ourand said on Twitter that Fox’s new NFL deal will include expanded mobile rights as well.

Fox’s reported new NFL deal comes in addition to the rights the network already holds for Sunday games and for a share of the broadcast rights to the Super Bowl. In 2011, CBS, Fox and NBC agreed to a nine-year deal, which runs through 2022, with the NFL valued at about $28 billion.

Ourand said that digital rights for Thursday Night Football, aired by Amazon during the 2017 season and by Twitter the previous season, are still up for grabs. He also said that Fox NFL commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will not be calling Thursday games for the network.

RELATED: ABC reportedly bidding on NFL Thursday Night Football TV rights

ABC and Turner had considered bidding on the Thursday night rights but decided against it, according to Ourand.

For the NFL, the reported deal with Fox is a welcome sign that broadcasters are still willing to shell out more money for rights to air games. Over the past two seasons the NFL has seen declines in ratings that led analysts like Michael Nathanson to say that the league is now in structural decline. But Fox’s apparent willingness to spend $100 million more per season for Thursday night games seems to somewhat rebuke that idea.

The NFL will face another important broadcast rights negotiation in 2021 when ESPN’s Monday Night Football deal expires. ESPN’s NFL deal is by far the richest, with the network spending $1.9 billion each year for rights to the games along with rights to air the NFL Draft, the Combine and the Pro Bowl in addition to extensive highlights rights.

For Fox, the move to expand its NFL rights comes as the company is preparing to sell off a significant chunk of its entertainment assets to Disney in a deal valued at $52.4 billion.

This article was updated to include confirmation of the agreement from Fox and the NFL.