ABC could bid for NFL’s Thursday night package
ABC, the US national network owned by Disney, is preparing to bid for the rights to NFL American football’s Thursday night games, it has been reported.
Fellow US national networks NBC and CBS have shared coverage of Thursday Night Football games for the last two seasons in a $900-million deal that is set to expire after next month’s Super Bowl.
ABC hasn’t televised primetime regular-season NFL games since 2005, however, the network could be about to return with a bid for the Thursday package from 2018 onwards, according to a report by USA’s Sports Business Journal.
The network was previously home to the NFL’s Monday night games, which debuted on ABC in 1970.
In 2005, the Monday night package moved to ABC’s sister pay-TV network ESPN.
ESPN’s exclusive deal for Monday night games is worth $1.9 billion per year and runs until 2021.
CBS paid $300 million for eight Thursday night games in the 2015 regular season, having spent $275 million for the same package in the prior year.
The NFL Network, the league’s own subscription TV channel, also airs the Thursday night games as part of its offering.
In recent years, the NFL has expanded its Thursday night broadcasts and secured global streaming deals with internet giants Twitter and Amazon.
In 2016, Twitter paid $10 million for the rights to live-stream 10 NFL Thursday night football games that were also shown on CBS and NBC in the regular season.
A year later, Amazon beat Twitter to the season-long package of matches, in a deal said to be worth $50 million.
Meanwhile, the NFL is set to increase its eSports efforts after it began a search for a head of gaming and eSports.
The league is seeking to hire an individual that “will lead the strategic planning, partner management and execution of the league's gaming efforts across all platforms, including console and mobile games, eSports/competitive gaming and new business development”.
The head of gaming and eSports will be responsible for a driving some of the league's key franchises, including NFL Madden, the American football video game developed by Electronic Arts.
More information on the role can be found here.
The NFL and EA have previously paired up to run the Madden NFL Championship Series, an eSports tournament which features all of the NFL’s 32 franchises and a prize pool of $1 million.