Point/Counterpoint: Is NFL's Thursday Night Football a good idea?

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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Last week’s Bears-Packers game was the most watched “Thursday Night Football” season début on the NFL Network since the show began seven years ago. In total, 8.6 million viewers agreed that having football on Thursday nights is a pretty darn good idea.

Excluding Weeks 1 and 17, there will be a game on Thursday night every week of this NFL season. It would be tough to find a fan of the league who will be unhappy with an extra day of football on the schedule.

Every other sport in the United States schedules games for nearly every day of the season. Now, it’s not realistic to expect the NFL to have games every day because players need time to recover after a game. But why not have three days of action every week? It doesn’t overwork the players, but gives the people what they want: more football.

The only criticism that can and should be made of “Thursday Night Football” is the channel that it’s aired on. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” had 19.3 million viewers at 8 p.m. this week for the Detroit-San Francisco game. This more than doubles the 8.6 million people who watched the Chicago-Green Bay game. Just imagine if the Bears and Packers had played on network television or even cable juggernaut ESPN.

Seriously, what is the difference between having 14 games on Sunday as opposed to 15? There isn’t any. Realistically, people can’t watch every game on Sunday anyway. Having “Thursday Night Football” is perfect for the NFL and its fans. It doesn’t diminish Sunday’s schedule, and NFL fans are provided with more days of game action than they ever have been before.

— by Ryan Probasco


Don’t take this the wrong way — I love my football. I’ll take that statement to the grave with me.
But “Thursday Night Football” is, as Sir Charles would say, a turrible idea.

Again, I’m all for more football. I think the idea for more football during the week is only trumped by the idea of putting peanut butter and jelly between two pieces of bread.

But the way the NFL goes about broadcasting said games is awful. Deplorable even. I’d go as far as to say it’s almost ignorant of the NFL to hog the Thursday night games and show them on its channel.
Next to nobody gets to see those games.

The Sept. 13 Green Bay-Chicago matchup gathered 8.6 million viewers, the most in their history. The average viewership of NFL Network’s Thursday night games in the program’s seven-year history is depressingly low at 805,000.

Compare that with two nights ago, when San Francisco played Detroit on NBC. That viewership total topped out at 19.35 million viewers (that number was down from the opening Sunday night, which featured Peyton Manning). NBC’s average viewership, mind you, is 20.3 million people.

If NFL Network continues to hold the rights of Thursday Night Football, it will continue to showcase those games to a viewership total that’s about the same size as the entire city of Jacksonville, Fla. On the other hand, NBC will continue to cater to a crowd size that’s equivalent to New York City, Los Angeles, and Tokyo combined.

Now, tell me, NFL, which sounds more appealing: Showing the games to the city of Jacksonville? Or three of the largest cities in the world?

Your move, Goodell.

— by Cody Goodwin


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