Thursday Night Football! It was a little thing the NFL did in its offseason. They signed a contract with the NFL Network to televise 13 regular season games on Thursday night. It is safe to say that the legacy networks did not take notice or care. Why should they? Thursday night is their night and a silly football game on a relatively unknown cable network wouldn’t change it, right? Well, wrong. “Thursday Night Football” may not sound like something special to many people, but it has dominated the ratings on Thursday night throughout this fall season.
Okay, so, your point is? Well, with the outrageous popularity that the NFL has right now, they are taking viewers away from the legacy media outlets, which means less money from advertisers, which means less profit for those legacy media outlets. Follow?
It’s really as simple as that. Those media outlets, which used to bank on big viewers on Thursday night, are no longer getting those audiences. This has to be troubling to those networks, as they most likely counted on that ad revenue for Thursday night.
A huge draw for these NFL games is the fact that they are live, like all sports are. You miss the game, you miss it for good. There are no replays, unless it found its way onto ESPN Classic. On the other hand, an airing of “The Office” can easily be recorded and watched at a later date at a more convenient time. So, these legacy networks are not just battling the NFL for ratings, they are battling new technologies. Both spell bad news for ad revenue.
However, as the football season winds down, there isn’t much more to worry about . . . until next season. This could really hurt the legacy networks as they may lose a decent amount of ad money for their Thursday night programming next fall season. It is definitely something that will be discussed between the networks and ad agencies in the future. It may even lead to these broadcast networks to contemplate changing their best programming to another night, if they feel as if they are going to lose to every NFL game on Thursday night. Something to keep an eye on in the future.