UPDATE: The NFL has released a statement that contradicts the ProFootballTalk report: “We are fully committed to Thursday Night Football and any reports to the contrary are unfounded.”
Thursday Night Football is the equivalent of too much cake. Most people love cake, but if it’s bad cake, you get sick of it.
And even though ratings are down across the board, Thursdays are a particular problem, beset with bad games and tired teams playing on short rest.
It looks like the NFL may do something about this.
The league is studying whether to limit or even eliminate Thursday night games, according to a report in ProFootballTalk. The league’s Thursday night contract with CBS and NBC ends after the 2017 season, so any changes could conceivably take place starting in 2018.
Among the options, according to PFT: limit Thursday games to Thanksgiving and after, or killing Thursday completely.
There’s no way the NFL will give up Thanksgiving games, as those remain very popular. This year’s games crushed the competition in the ratings, even though the dull night game (a Steelers 28-7 blowout of the Colts) saw ratings dip year over year.
But any changes are likely to be met with widespread approval. The players by in large can’t stand Thursday night games, as perfectly articulated by the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman:
“I mean, it’s rough. It’s rough on the body. Any time you play a football game and play another one a few days later, it’s going to be tough on the body. But it’s just another one of those things. Another one of those simple contradictions of the league, because they care about us.”
Fans have already told the NFL how they feel with declining ratings.
It’s reasonable to think that the NFL will try to figure out a way to recoup any money it would lose by making a Thursday change. The league gets $450 million a year just from Thursday nights — or $45 million a game. That’s a lot of scratch, and it’s money the owners are not going to want to give up.