Thursday Night Football

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Thursday Night Football
Thursday Night Football logo.png
The logo for Thursday Night Football for the 2014 NFL season.
Also known asRun to the Playoffs
StarringJim Nantz
Phil Simms
Tracy Wolfson
James Brown
Bill Cowher
Deion Sanders
Rich Eisen
Steve Mariucci
Marshall Faulk
Michael Irvin
Mike Carey
Theme music composerDavid Robidoux[1]
Opening theme"In My City" by Priyanka Chopra[2]
"Moviendo Caderas" by Yandel ft Daddy Yankee (Univision Version)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes48
Running time180 minutes+
Original channelNFL Network (2006–present)
CBS (2014–; airing nine games, producing all games)
Original runNovember 23, 2006 (2006-11-23) – present
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Thursday Night Football
Thursday Night Football logo.png
The logo for Thursday Night Football for the 2014 NFL season.
Also known asRun to the Playoffs
StarringJim Nantz
Phil Simms
Tracy Wolfson
James Brown
Bill Cowher
Deion Sanders
Rich Eisen
Steve Mariucci
Marshall Faulk
Michael Irvin
Mike Carey
Theme music composerDavid Robidoux[1]
Opening theme"In My City" by Priyanka Chopra[2]
"Moviendo Caderas" by Yandel ft Daddy Yankee (Univision Version)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes48
Running time180 minutes+
Original channelNFL Network (2006–present)
CBS (2014–; airing nine games, producing all games)
Original runNovember 23, 2006 (2006-11-23) – present

Thursday Night Football is a presentation of National Football League games broadcast by CBS and NFL Network.

The eight-game package debuted on November 23, 2006, with the Kansas City Chiefs handing the visiting Denver Broncos a 19–10 Thanksgiving defeat. Most games kick off at 8:20 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). Five games aired on Thursday nights, the other three on Saturday nights. Each game would be called either Thursday Night Football or Saturday Night Football, depending on the night on which it appears; the package as a whole was known as the Run to the Playoffs. This format carried over to the 2007 season.

Starting in 2008, NFL Network eliminated all but one of the Saturday night games and started their Thursday night package three weeks earlier. This was to accommodate the earlier schedule and the league's antitrust exemption, which prohibits Saturday games during college football season. In the following season, all references to Saturday Night Football were dropped and any games not played on Thursday were referred to as a "special edition" of Thursday Night Football; since then, however, relatively few Thursday Night Football games have been played outside of Thursdays.

On launch, the package proved highly controversial mainly due to the relative unavailability of NFL Network at the time, as the league attempted to encourage providers to carry NFL Network on a basic service tier rather than in premium, sports-oriented packages. However, as with all other cable telecasts of NFL games, such as Monday Night Football, the league's own regulations require games to be syndicated to over-the-air stations in the local markets of the teams involved if they are exclusively televised on cable. In February 2014, it was announced that CBS Sports would take over production for Thursday Night Football for the 2014 NFL season under a one-year contract, and that CBS would nationally broadcast a selection of the games in simulcast with NFL Network.


The NFL Network's coverage was not the first time games were covered on Thursday or Saturday. Prior to the new contract, ESPN carried a handful of sporadic Thursday night games (usually those displaced from Sunday night) and the broadcast networks used to air several national games on Saturday afternoons in mid-to-late December after the regular college football season ended, a practice which has since been discontinued. Incidentally, the only reason the league is even allowed to televise football games on Saturday night stems from a legal loophole: the league's antitrust exemption, the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, was written when the NFL regular season ended in mid-December, and as such, it contains specific language that prohibits televising NFL games in most markets on Friday nights and all day on Saturdays between the second week of September and the second week of December, to protect high school and college football. Since most high school and college seasons have ended by mid-December, other than bowl games, there has been little desire to close this loophole, even though the regular season has expanded well beyond mid-December since the law's passage.

In 2005, when the NFL negotiated a new set of television contracts, Comcast-owned OLN offered to pay $450 million for an eight-year contract to carry NFL games in prime time. In exchange, Comcast planned to add NFL Network to its digital cable lineup. The channel was added, but NFLN decided to air the games itself, foregoing a rights fee.[3] The other TV deals generated $3.735 billion per year over an eight-year period for CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, and DirecTV.[citation needed]

The Thanksgiving matchup was moved from NFL Network to NBC's broadcast package as part of the new broadcast contract after the 2011 season. During Super Bowl week in 2012, it was announced that the Thursday Night Football package would expand from 8 to 13 games and air on NFL Network, again soliciting and rejecting offers from Turner Sports and Comcast.[citation needed]

Partnership with CBS[edit]

In January 2014, it was reported that the NFL was planning to sub-license a package of up to eight Thursday Night Football games to another broadcaster for the 2014 NFL season. The NFL had negotiated with its existing broadcast partners, along with Turner Sports. These eight games were to be simulcast by NFL Network, and reports indicated that ESPN planned to place the games on ABC in the event it won the rights, bringing the NFL back to the network for the first time since Super Bowl XL and the move of Monday Night Football to ESPN in 2006.[4][5][6][7]

On February 5, 2014, it was announced that CBS had picked the rights to produce and broadcast Thursday Night Football games for the 2014 season: as in previous seasons, all of the games in the package will be televised by NFL Network, but the telecasts themselves will be produced by CBS Sports and called by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. NFL Network staff will provide pre-game, halftime, and post-game coverage for all of the games. Excluding the Kickoff game, the first eight Thursday night games of the season will be broadcast by CBS and NFL Network, along with half of a new Saturday doubleheader for Week 16.[8] The remaining games will air exclusively on NFL Network.[9][10]

With the move of selected games to CBS, media executives expected more major matchups to appear on Thursday Night Football in 2014 than in previous years in order to attract viewership.[11][12] CBS and the NFL unveiled the games scheduled for Thursday Night Football in April 2014; CBS's inaugural Thursday night game will be aired on September 11, 2014, and feature the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.[8][13]


Game announcers[edit]

Bryant Gumbel served as play-by-play announcer from 2006 through 2007, resigning in early 2008. He was replaced by Bob Papa. Cris Collinsworth was the color commentator until taking over for John Madden as lead analyst on NBC Sunday Night Football in 2009; Matt Millen succeeded him that year, with Joe Theismann joining as a second analyst in 2010. Brad Nessler (play-by-play) and Mike Mayock have called the Thursday night games since 2011. There was no sideline reporter until 2009 when Scott Hanson assumed that role; Adam Schefter and Marshall Faulk of NFL Total Access have also contributed from the field at various times. Dick Vermeil served as color commentator for Saturday games in 2006.

For the 2014 season, Jim Nantz (play-by-play) and Phil Simms (color) will call the games.[10]

Pregame, halftime and postgame coverage[edit]

Each game telecast is preceded by NFL Total Access Kick Off. Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and either Marshall Faulk or Kurt Warner report live from the site of each game. The show generally begins two hours before game time (6 p.m. ET). The same Total Access team hosts the halftime and postgame shows.

In 2009, NFL Total Access on Location was replaced by Thursday Night Kickoff. The sponsors for Thursday Night Kickoff as of the 2013 NFL season are: Craftsman (pregame), KFC (pre-kick) and Lexus (halftime).


Games are shown in approximately 45 million cable and satellite households, and on broadcast stations in the media markets of the participating teams. The home-team broadcast is technically subject to the NFL's blackout rule. These games can also be seen in Canada on Sportsnet (except for Buffalo Bills games, which are instead seen on Citytv) and in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports.

Preseason games[edit]

NFL Network also presented two preseason games before the 2006 season, using the staff that now works on this package. Spero Dedes was the play-by-play announcer, Sterling Sharpe was the analyst, and Kara Henderson was the sideline reporter.

Radio coverage[edit]

The NFL on Westwood One Sports provides national radio broadcasts for the games, with Ian Eagle calling play-by-play, Randy Cross handling color analysis, and Hub Arkush on the sidelines for Thursday Night Football.

Game announcers[edit]



Pre-game show
2nd Set
Game coverage






2013 season[edit]

WeekDayDateVisiting TeamFinal ScoreHost TeamStadiumGame Notes
2ThursdaySeptember 12New York Jets10–13New England PatriotsGillette Stadium
3ThursdaySeptember 19Kansas City Chiefs26–16Philadelphia EaglesLincoln Financial FieldFirst game between Eagles and their former coach Andy Reid
4ThursdaySeptember 26San Francisco 49ers35–11St. Louis RamsEdward Jones Dome
5ThursdayOctober 3Buffalo Bills24-37Cleveland BrownsFirstEnergy Stadium
5SundayOctober 6San Diego Chargers17-27Oakland ColiseumOriginally planned to be broadcast by CBS for a 1:25 p.m. PT (4:25 p.m. ET) start, the game was pushed back to an 8:35 p.m. PT (11:35 p.m. ET) start and moved to NFL Network as a Thursday Night Football Special Edition (but maintaining CBS production staff and commentators Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts), as time was needed to convert the stadium back to its football configuration after an Oakland Athletics ALDS baseball game the night prior. In San Diego, CBS affiliate KFMB-TV (who would have broadcast the game had it been played at its normal time) picked up rights to the game.[14]
6ThursdayOctober 10New York Giants21-27Chicago BearsSoldier Field
7ThursdayOctober 17Seattle Seahawks34-22Arizona CardinalsUniversity of Phoenix Stadium
8ThursdayOctober 24Carolina Panthers31-13Tampa Bay BuccaneersRaymond James Stadium
9ThursdayOctober 31Cincinnati Bengals20-22Miami DolphinsSun Life Stadium
10ThursdayNovember 7Washington Redskins27-34Minnesota VikingsMall of America Field
11ThursdayNovember 14Indianapolis Colts30-27Tennessee TitansLP Field
12ThursdayNovember 21New Orleans Saints17-13Atlanta FalconsGeorgia Dome
14ThursdayDecember 5Houston Texans20-27Jacksonville JaguarsEverBank Field
15ThursdayDecember 12San Diego Chargers27-20Denver BroncosSports Authority Field at Mile High

Thursday Night Football all-time team standings[edit]

This list shows the National Football League teams' all-time standings in the games they played on Thursday Night Football.

Standings are current as of December 28, 2013.

TeamGames PlayedWinsLossesTiesWin Pct.First AppearanceMost Recent Appearance
Indianapolis Colts6601.000November 22, 2007
defeated Atlanta 31-13
November 8, 2012
defeated Jacksonville 27-10
Kansas City Chiefs431.750November 23, 2006
defeated Denver 19-10
September 19, 2013
defeated Philadelphia 26-16
Pittsburgh Steelers752.714December 7, 2006
defeated Cleveland 27-7
November 28, 2013
lost to Baltimore Ravens 22-20
New York Jets532.600November 13, 2008
defeated New England 34-31
September 12, 2013
lost to New England 13-10
San Diego Chargers541.800December 4, 2008
defeated Oakland 34-7
November 1, 2012
defeated Kansas City 31-13
Dallas Cowboys752.714December 16, 2006
defeated Atlanta 38-28
December 17, 2011
defeated Tampa Bay 31-15
Philadelphia Eagles422.500November 27, 2008
defeated Arizona 48-20
December 13, 2012
lost to Cincinnati 34-13
New York Giants532.600December 30, 2006
defeated Washington 34-28
October 9, 2013
lost to Chicago 27-21
San Francisco 49ers642.667December 14, 2006
defeated Seattle 24-14
October 18, 2012
defeated Seattle 13-6
Denver Broncos642.667November 23, 2006
lost to Kansas City 19-10
December 6, 2012
defeated Oakland 26-13
Atlanta Falcons642.667December 16, 2006
lost to Dallas 38-28
November 29, 2012
defeated New Orleans 23-13
Chicago Bears533.500December 6, 2007
lost to Washington 24-16
October 9, 2013
defeated N.Y. Giants 27-20
Baltimore Ravens532.600November 30, 2006
lost to Cincinnati 13-7
September 27, 2012
defeated Cleveland 23-16
Seattle Seahawks312.333December 14, 2006
lost to San Francisco 24-14
October 17, 2013
defeated Arizona 34-22
Green Bay Packers2211.00December 21, 2006
defeated Minnesota 9-7
September 13, 2012
defeated Chicago 23-10
Arizona Cardinals312.333November 27, 2008
lost to Philadelphia 48-20
October 17, 2013
lost to Seattle 34-22
Washington Redskins211.500December 30, 2006
lost to N.Y. Giants 34-28
December 6, 2007
defeated Chicago 24-16
New England Patriots321.667December 29, 2007
defeated N.Y. Giants 38-35
September 13, 2013
defeated N.Y. Jets 13-10
Miami Dolphins312.333November 19, 2009
defeated Carolina 24-17
November 15, 2012
lost to Buffalo 19-14
Houston Texans312.333December 13, 2007
defeated Denver 31-13
December 22, 2011
lost to Indianapolis 19-16
Oakland Raiders312.333December 23, 2006
lost to Kansas City 20-9
December 6, 2012
lost to Denver 26-13
Cleveland Browns624.333December 7, 2006
lost to Pittsburgh 27-7
October 3, 2013
defeated Buffalo 37-24
Cincinnati Bengals523.333November 30, 2006
defeated Baltimore 13-7
December 13, 2012
defeated Philadelphia 34-13
Carolina Panthers404.000December 22, 2007
lost to Dallas 20-13
September 20, 2012
lost to New York Giants 36-7
Jacksonville Jaguars514.200December 18, 2008
lost to Indianapolis 31-24
December 5, 2013
defeatedHouston 27-20
Tennessee Titans312.333December 25, 2009
lost to San Diego 42-17
October 11, 2012
defeated Pittsburgh 26-23
New Orleans Saints514.000December 11, 2008
lost to Chicago 27-24
November 21, 2013
defeated Atlanta 17-13
St. Louis Rams211.500December 20, 2007
lost to Pittsburgh 41-24
October 4, 2012
defeated Arizona 17-3
Buffalo Bills312.333December 3, 2009
lost to N.Y. Jets 19-13
October 3, 2013
lost to Cleveland 37-24
Minnesota Vikings202.000December 21, 2006
lost to Green Bay 9-7
October 25, 2012
lost to Tampa Bay 36-17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers211.500December 17, 2011
lost to Dallas 31-15
October 25, 2012
defeated Minnesota 36-17
Detroit Lions000.000

Digital on-screen graphics[edit]

The digital on-screen graphics during the 2007 Patriots-Giants game.

When the games started showing on NFL Network in 2006, a red score banner that spanned the top of the TV screen was used. The team logos were in oval shapes, like most NFL Network programs used since the start of the 2006 NFL season, and with their respective scores next to the ovals. During the Texas Bowl, and the Insight Bowl, the score banner was gold, instead of red.

In 2007, the on-screen graphics went to a complete overhaul. The scoreboard is located at the middle of the top of the screen. The team logos in ovals were kept; with the visiting team's logo and their respective score or on the left side, and the home team's logo and score are on the opposite side. In the middle, there is a red background, with the game clock in white, yellow bars to indicate quarter, and the NFL Network logo at the bottom. When a touchdown is scored, the scoring teams side opens, and a light goes through, revealing "TOUCHDOWN" in white in the team's color background. The side closes, and what appears to be a black graphic "wipes" away the score, thus changing it. Like in 2006, the scoreboard got a change in color, during bowl coverage, except that the red area was light orange.

In 2008, the on-screen graphics had minor changes, including listing the quarter underneath the game clock instead of using the yellow bars from 2007.

On Thanksgiving in 2009, NFL Network introduced timeout indicators above the team logos and their respective scores.

In 2010, the on-screen graphics underwent a complete overhaul, including the scoreboard (which itself returned to a banner) being moved to the bottom of the screen and timeout indicators below the team abbreviations and logos. The score banner got a change in color, which was white with a black background.

In 2012, the on-screen graphics were completely overhauled once again as part of an overall re-branding of NFL Network and also, its switch to a full 16:9 letterbox presentation. The score banner, which takes on a more traditional look (similar to that of NBC and ESPN) than its aforementioned 2006-2011 predecessors, resembles a black background color with a silver chrome-like finish and also features the NFL Network logo to the left and team logos alongside the abbreviations with timeout indicators below them. In 2013, there is a minor change on the graphics, when a team scores a touchdown, the team logo is shown next to "TOUCHDOWN" instead of the team name.

With CBS Sports taking over production of TNF in 2014, the graphics will likely change to the blue-colored look of CBS Sports, with a Klavika font.



Upon the original launch of the Thursday and Saturday night games, few television service providers have carried the NFL Network due to disputes over carriage contracts for the network. These disputes were magnified throughout the 2007 season, as two high profile matchups were to be broadcast by the network. The match up between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, both 10-1 at the time, drew large attention to the issue; the fact that such a high profile matchup would be unavailable to a majority of the country was seen as unacceptable to fans. This controversy was surpassed when NBC and CBS both bought the broadcast rights from the NFL Network to air the New England Patriots' season finale against the New York Giants, as they were 15–0 and vying to be the first team to finish the regular season with a perfect 16–0 record; the controversy was centered around the networks' actions denying exclusive over-the-air rights to local stations WWOR-TV and WCVB, who were the Giants' and Patriots' local broadcast homes for games on cable (the game aired on these stations, as well as on WCBS, WNBC, WBZ, and WHDH in the teams' market areas).[15]

Game quality[edit]

Thursday Night Football games are among the lowest-rated nationally televised NFL broadcasts. Critics have argued that the games televised on Thursday Night Football have been of lower quality than other primetime games; noting that they have often featured match-ups between lesser or poor-performing teams, and that the shortened rest between games triggered by Thursday games also has an affect on their overall quality.[11][12]

In an analysis by Sports on Earth writer Aaron Roberts, it was determined that that most Thursday games were of average or above-average quality in comparison to normal, non-primetime games, but that this was "by design" due to the leverage of other NFL broadcasters on how games are scheduled throughout the season (which traditionally prioritizes "major" games for either late-afternoon or primetime slots).[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "David Robidoux". APM Music. Retrieved 2012-11-28. 
  2. ^ NFL Communications: Priyanka Chopra to Serve as Opening Music Act for NFL Network's Thursday Night Football. Retrieved on 15 September 2013.
  3. ^ Ourand, John (2009-01-25). "Why NFL Network is on the sidelines". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  4. ^ "N.F.L. Explores New TV Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Sources: NFL Wants Thursday Games Simulcast On NFL Network". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Sources: ABC Planning To Bid For Thursday Night NFL Package". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "NFL Expected to Receive Bids to Air Thursday Games". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Rivalries Abound in CBS Thursday Night Football Slate". Adweek. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "CBS to broadcast eight Thursday night football games in 2014". CBS Sports. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "CBS to broadcast NFL games on Thursday in 2014". USA Today. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Execs expect strong NFL slate for CBS". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Levy, Dan. "Is Thursday Night Football Hurting the NFL Brand?". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "2014 NFL Thursday Night Football schedule". Eye on Football. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Late-night TV looming for Chargers fans". U-T San Diego. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Saunders, Dusty (2008-01-02). "COMMENTARY : Antitrust threat prompted NFL’s reversal". Rocky Mountain News. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Archived from the original on 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  16. ^ "By design, Thursday Night Football is merely average.". Sports On Earth. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Thursday Night Blights". Sports On Earth. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 

External links[edit]