When CBS began carrying “Thursday Night Football” in September, the network did not expect one blowout after another during the first four weeks. It had promoted its new prime-time package throughout the CBS empire and moved a durable ratings hit, “The Big Bang Theory,” to Monday nights. For its efforts and a $275 million rights fee, CBS was getting this?
The Baltimore Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by 20 points, three days after graphic video surfaced showing Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée.
The Atlanta Falcons trounced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 42. The Giants overwhelmed the Washington Redskins by 31. And the Green Bay Packers wrecked the Minnesota Vikings by 32.
“No question, we were pulling our hair out,” said Leslie Moonves, the president and chief executive of the CBS Corporation. “We’d spent a lot of money promoting these games, and you’re watching one game after another tank.”
More competitive contests might have increased viewership of those games, but the next four (three on Thursday and one on Saturday) featured only one lopsided contest and did not produce bigger audiences. Indeed, the first four games and the last four games averaged just over 16 million viewers on CBS and NFL Network, which simulcast them.
For CBS, the games had done their job by helping it promote new programs, build up its Monday programming and show fewer repeats.
“As a network, we’re much stronger with ‘Thursday Night Football’ than without it,” said Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports.
An N.F.L. game has value beyond a half-hour sitcom, even one as valuable as “Big Bang,” said Brad Adgate, senior vice president for research at Horizon Media.
“First, the game is live, for three hours, and ‘Big Bang’ is one of the most heavily time-shifted shows on television, so there’s a concern about whether its ads are being seen,” he said.
According to Advertising Week, advertisers paid $483,333 for 30-second ads during Thursday night games last season. CBS executives said that price had risen by below 10 percent this season.
Kantar Media calculated that CBS had sold $254.8 million in advertising that capitalized on the desire of film studios, carmakers and retailers to prime buyers for weekend purchases.
“You wouldn’t want to sell against it,” said Jo Ann Ross, the president of network sales for the CBS Television Network, referring to the Thursday night games.
CBS, which will carry Super Bowl 50 in February, is the only network that owns two N.F.L. packages, an enviable position despite the league’s woes from concussion litigation, the mishandling of domestic violence cases and the deflated-football controversy that could keep New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady off the field for the first four games of the season.
From their inception in 2006, Thursday night games were the league’s lesser television offspring. Players and coaches were not thrilled by the short week of preparation. But the league — hoping to stretch its influence beyond Sundays and Mondays — viewed Thursday as another prime-time opportunity. Its channel, NFL Network, carried the games exclusively through 2013.
But the league gradually shifted its thinking, coming to believe that Thursday could truly be an appointment night for the N.F.L., as it had for college football.
In CBS, the league saw the most-viewed broadcast network in prime time and put the Thursday night franchise in its hands. Eight games were placed on CBS (and simulcast on NFL Network). The remaining eight were carried by NFL Network and broadcast stations in the markets of the teams playing.
CBS agreed to produce all the games and gave an added assignment to its No. 1 Sunday afternoon broadcast team, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.
But the league has decided not to make a long-term deal with CBS. Last season’s one-year contract was followed by a similar one, at $300 million, for 2015. Take it or leave it.
“Is that frustrating?” said Moonves, who paused before responding. “Would we have liked more? Absolutely.”
Asked if he will remain patient if the league seeks another one-year deal for 2016, McManus said, “I’m not sure what the alternative is.” He added, “We weren’t shy about proposing a long-term deal.”
The N.F.L. is reluctant to agree to a contract longer than a year because of the changing media landscape. People are untethering themselves from cable and satellite subscriptions in which they pay for channels they do not want and are choosing Internet-based services instead. Whether the league wants to align Thursday night games with old or new media is a question it seems unready to answer. At what point will it be time to stream “Thursday Night Football” directly to consumers rather than distribute it by traditional means, where a long-term deal could yield a billion dollars or more?
“I think it’s fair to say everything’s on the table,” said Brian Rolapp, the league’s executive vice president for media. “We know we have a really good thing with CBS, and we’re focusing on this year. Thursday is the only package that isn’t long term, and we think a little differently about it. In this day and age, to lock into one model isn’t the smartest thing anymore.”
The future of Thursday night games, as a possible digital property, could become a bit clearer after Yahoo globally streams the Oct. 25 game in London between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But CBS executives accept that the league is undecided — or is at least keeping its lucrative options open.
For now, Thursday night games will resume on CBS on Sept. 17, with the Denver Broncos playing the Kansas City Chiefs, followed by reprises of three matchups from last season — Redskins-Giants, Baltimore-Pittsburgh and Indianapolis-Houston. And CBS, happy to let the games enhance its prime-time power, will hope to keep them in 2016 and beyond.
Credit to the NY Times who originally published this article
Warriors Fans Throw Objects At Charles Barkley On Inside the NBA Set
“Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.”
Charles Barkley is no stranger to being the object of fans’ ire. The cities of San Antonio and Cleveland have a history of being the butt of the Round Mound of Rebound’s jokes. Thursday night in San Francisco, fans of the Warriors took things to a different level, throwing objects at Barkley on the Inside the NBA set.
The TNT studio show was broadcasting live from outside the Chase Center. The crowd chanted “Chuck, you suck!” at Barkley before the game. After Golden State clinched a birth in the NBA Finals, things got physical.
Fans threw things at the set, including a rolled-up t-shirt, which hit Charles Barkley in the back of the head. That resulted in Barkley leaving his seat and bowing up to the audience.
“Come on Chuck!” Ernie Johnson pleaded as Kenny Smith repeatedly said “Sit down Chuck.”
Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.
Now that the Western Conference Finals are over, TNT’s NBA schedule has concluded. That doesn’t mean Charles Barkley won’t return to San Francisco for the NBA Finals, but it is highly unlikely given the reception he has received there.
Barkley spent most of the postseason telling Golden State fans they were annoying and need to shut up and saying the city of San Francisco has “dirty ass streets”.
Jon Miller To Call MLB Sunday Leadoff Game On Peacock
“According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict.”
Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller will be returning to the national broadcast booth on Sunday. He will call the San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds game for Peacock. He’ll be joined in the booth by Barry Larkin and Shawn Estes.
According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict. Benetti, the regular play-by-play voice of Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff, is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago has prioritized this weekend’s series between the White Sox and Cubs, making Benetti unavailable to the national broadcast.
Miller has been calling Giants games since 1997 and previously shared the Sunday Night Baseball booth on ESPN with hall of famer Joe Morgan.
The broadcast, called MLB Sunday Leadoff, will begin at 11 a.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Ahmed Fareed. The game broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m.
The game will take place in an exclusive two-hour broadcast window prior to the start of the rest of the league’s day of games.
Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast
“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’
First it was the Mannings. Now it’s McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.
No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.
Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.
McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast. However, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.
“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.”
In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.
There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.