Only the NFL could create a spectacle out of announcing a schedule that won’t matter for another five months. But the seemingly inane makes perfect sense when demand outstrips supply. And in the league where there truly is no offseason, everything is a primetime event worthy of the national spotlight.
The— in all its 256-game glory — is no different. There’s everything from the intriguing games, the holiday specials, the best games from one week to the next and, of course, the Thursday night lineup, which has gone from midweek afterthought to a nationally televised affair.
Here’s the Thursday night slate of games (all times Eastern):
- Week 2, Sept. 13: Ravens at Bengals, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network
- Week 3, Sept. 20: Jets at Browns, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network
- Week 4, Sept. 27: Vikings at Rams, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 5, Oct. 4: Colts at Patriots, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 6, Oct. 11: Eagles at Giants, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 7, Oct. 18: Broncos at Cardinals, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 8, Oct. 25: Dolphins at Texans, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 9, Nov. 1: Raiders at 49ers, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 10, Nov. 8: Panthers at Steelers, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 11, Nov. 15: Packers at Seahawks, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 13, Nov. 29: Saints at Cowboys, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 14, Dec. 6: Jaguars at Titans, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 15, Dec. 13: Chargers at Chiefs, 8:20 p.m, FOX/NFL Network
- Week 15, (Saturday) Dec. 15: Texans at Jets, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network
- Week 15, (Saturday) Dec. 15: Browns at Broncos, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network
Last year, Amazon Prime streamed 11 Thursday night games, and the year before,streamed 10 games. The NFL hasn’t yet announced the streaming rights for the 2018 “Thursday Night Football” schedule.
In January, Fox Sports secured the rights to “Thursday Night Football”over the next five years.
“This agreement is the culmination of over 10 years of strategic growth around ‘Thursday Night Football,’ a period during which this property has grown from a handful of late season games on NFL Network to a full season of games and one of the most popular shows on broadcast television with additional distribution via cable and digital channels,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time in a statement.
The deal will resemble previous contracts for “Thursday Night Football,” including CBS’ just-concluded four-year run; Fox will broadcast 11 games between Weeks 4-15, not counting Thanksgiving, and those games will be simulcast on NFL Network. Seven additional games will air exclusively on NFL Network, with Fox producing the entire 18-game slate.
Goodell said earlier this year that the digital partner can have a contract that doesn’t align with that of the broadcast partner. Put another way; whomever secures the rights to stream TNF won’t need require a five-year deal that mirrors Fox’s.
With the 2018 NFL schedule now released, all that’s left is the waiting.