Disappointing ratings have sparked debate about whether football is overexposed in prime-time
The National Football League recently dismissed speculation that it is considering reducing its commitment to Thursday Night Football in the wake of disappointing ratings this season.
“We are fully committed to Thursday Night Football and any reports to the contrary are unfounded,” says Natalie Ravitz, NFL senior vice president of communications.
The NFL was responding to a story that suggested there were discussions to cut the package after the 2017 season. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, citing a source, reported that the NFL “will be considering the possibility of ending, or at least limiting, Thursday Night Football.”
The league’s NFL Network TV channel is obligated by contracts with its cable and satellite partners to carry at least eight games a season and most of those are on Thursday. However, that does not mean the broadcast portion couldn’t be eliminated or shortened down the road.
While ratings for the NFL’s primetime games are down across the board compared to last season, the numbers have shown signs of improvement since Election Day. Last week’s Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins drew an average of 35.1 million viewers on FOX – the highest total for a regular-season game since 1995.