It’s generally hard to call the NFL’s Thursday Night Games a “success”. The players hate them, and some fans have followed suit, siding with the notion that shortening the rest, recovery and preparation timetable between games flies in the face of player safety. The fact that the games were trapped on the NFL network also limited access depending on who your cable provider was.
Now that CBS has jumped in to the fray, that will no longer be the case. CBS will now simulcast eight Thursday Night Games along with the NFL Network in the earlier chunk of the schedule. The NFL Network will keep the second-half games only available to its subscribers.
The eight second-half games will be split with six on Thursday and two as part of a Saturday doubleheader in Week 16. The first Saturday game would be in the afternoon followed by the second in prime time, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
The agreement is only for the 2014 season, which is smart because the first game of the week was always a bit of a letdown. I’m not sure how strong the viewership is actually going to be.
Who am I kidding? The viewership stats are going to be bananas.
Most of these games were hideous or absolute blowouts. It wasn’t until San Diego beat Denver in Week 15 that we actually had an entertaining matchup. In fact, the average team won NFL Thursday Night Games by +9.0 points. That includes six double-digit blowouts, the highest being +24.0 when the 49ers demolished the Rams and the +18.0 from Carolina’s stomping of the Buccaneers.
There were a couple close games, but most of them were severely ugly and depressing. Maybe the initial NFL Thursday Night Game, which pitted the Patriots against the rival Jets in an absolute bore-fest, set the tone for this prime time event. In fact, the most exciting Thursday Night Game was probably the Bills-Browns from Week 5. You might not always know when there’s a good game on the horizon, but with this particular set you’re usually better off tuning in to Community or whatever else is on Thursday night.
That being said, when football is on television I’m drawn to it like a fad kid’s drawn to a steaming fresh pizza that’s been left on the kitchen table. I may not like the NFL Thursday Night Games, but I must admit that I clear my schedule to take them in almost every week. The profit that CBS will generate from these games will be immense, regardless of how “good or bad” the action on the field is.
You’ll watch it too, even if Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are in the booth. And if you hate them, don’t worry – Mike Mayock will still be on the NFL Network totally killing any excitement as well. I’m just kidding. There’s no excitement with Thursday Night Games!
We may not like it. Hell, we may not even enjoy it but it’s football. When it’s on television, we’re watching it.
Thank god for gambling because Sheldon, Leonard, Penny and the gang will be moving to another time slot.