Fox Sports Closes 5-Year Deal with NFL

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Getty Image

"We believe in buying the very best rights, and the best rights are the National Football League".

CBS paid $37.5 million per game for eight games during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

CBS and NBC had paid $450 million a year combined for the past two seasons.

Terms of the Fox Sports deal were not disclosed. Fox's new digital right enable the network to distribute both Thursday Night Football and its Sunday games to Fox subscribers over ana array of digital platforms including mobile phones for the first time. The Thursday night games will continue to be simulcast on NFL Network as well. Rights for the upcoming season have not yet been sold.

"The NFL is going to see an erosion, a further erosion in their ratings and their revenue", said Sean Hannity, for one, calling into Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" last fall.

Players complained the midweek games offered too little recovery time to be in top condition and contributed to injuries. (This excludes the Thanksgiving night game, which will still air on NBC). "Hard to recover in four days". For NBC in particular, the split schedule introduced tricky variables as it launched its Thursday lineup and then had to benched it for football before bringing it back.

The networks anxious that the Thursday prime-time games contributed to over-saturation that was a factor in declining pro football ratings overall. League officials, however, have not found any statistical value in gauging shorter rest versus normal rest.

It's lucrative for the league, but players hate Thursday night games, and for good reason. "There are different views, as we know, and we will do everything we can to have the best outcome as possible". Its ratings slid 12 per cent last season.

The flip side of that coin, of course, is that all linear ratings are declining, so football offers an iceberg that may be melting at a slower rate than others in the programming sea. Logically, it would stand that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would get the call as part of FOX's No. 1 crew, but it is possible they could experiment throughout the year with different combinations.

For a comparison between the quality of the games and audience size, "TNF" on NBC 13.583 million total viewers this season.

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