NEW YORK -- The NFL Network will broadcast eight prime-time
games on Thursdays and Saturdays beginning next season.
The eight-game package, announced by commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Saturday, will begin with a game on Thanksgiving night. All of
the games also will be shown on local stations in the teams' home
markets. The package was created by taking Saturday and Sunday
games that originally would have been shown by the league's
broadcast partners or on their regional telecasts.
The league runs the 2-year-old NFL Network, which is in about 40
million homes. The addition of games to its lineup almost assuredly
will increase that number.
The league also has lucrative deals with CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and
"After discussing this new package of games with many potential partners, we decided it would be best presented on our own, high-quality NFL Network, which has developed so rapidly that the
time had come to add live regular-season games to the
programming," Tagliabue said. "In the end, we wanted these games
on our network, which is devoted 24/7 to the sport of football, and
not on a multi-sport network."
ESPN is paying $1.1 billion annually over eight years to broadcast the Monday night games. NBC has a six-year, $3.6 billion deal for the Sunday night package. CBS and Fox are paying a total of $8 billion over six years for the rights to Sunday afternoon games. DirecTV agreed to pay $3.5 billion for a five-year extension
that runs through 2010.