By: Tyler Wornell, KCOU Sports
Thursday Night Football ratings are on the rise, but it’s not because of the on-field product. According to zap2it.com, Thursday Night Football has nearly doubled its TV ratings since last year, and is achieving record highs since its inception in 2006.
This is hard to fathom, especially considering the games featured in the first three weeks of the season. Each of those games was a total blowout, and the smallest margin of victory was 20 points. Yes, I said smallest.
The last two weeks have been an aberration in the pattern, even though the Colts did have a 24-0 lead against Houston two weeks ago. Last week’s matchup between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots was arguably the first good game of the season for Thursday Night Football.
This week showcases an AFC West showdown between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers, in what is either going to be a Peyton Manning record setting night, or a defensive battle. Either way, I guess that should be a good one.
Despite the lack of good games, Thursday Night Football is still managing to get a considerable amount of viewership on a weekly basis. The NFL Network partnered with CBS this year, and will be simulcasting games in weeks 2-8. This has boosted both CBS’s and Thursday Night Football’s ratings.
Thursday Night Football has seen a 66% increase in viewership this year, and all signs point to that number increasing, at least until week 8. The true test will come in weeks 9-16, when games are only on the NFL Network.
This year, CBS paid the NFL $275 million for the rights to broadcast its Thursday night games, and it’s likely that number will only grow in the future. Thursday Night Football isn’t about playing good games; it’s about making money.
The NFL also expanded their Thursday night package this year, featuring a game in every week of the season. This seems to be yet another move by the league to merely increase viewership and revenue, all while ignoring all of the problems with Thursday night games.
The NFL doesn’t seem to understand the concept that teams play on an extremely short amount of rest, only three days. Players are beat up on Sunday afternoons, exhausted, and don’t have an adequate amount of time to rest. This effect is intensified for those teams that have to travel in the already short week.
The inclusion of average teams has made the situation worse. The NFL’s above average and elite teams play on Sunday and Monday night, while Thursday night games feature teams like the Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jacksonville Jaguars. If the NFL can reserve their Sunday and Monday night games for the upper-tier teams, they can do the same on Thursday night.
While the on-field product doesn’t seem to be getting any better, the NFL is still making millions. Sorry fans, but unless the NFL suddenly goes broke, I guess we’re stuck watching useless games on Thursday night.