The NFL has to figure out a better way to package Thursday Night Football. We have some ideas.
Right before the NFL kicked off week 12 of the NFL season, there were stories that started to come out about the NFL considering canceling or scaling back their Thursday Night Football package that runs through 2016. (more on that story here).
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While the TNF has failed to take off like it’s Sunday night and Monday night counterparts, the Thursday Night Football Package needs to be saved and it can actually work. If the NFL wants to make it work, it needs to do the following.
Trash all the gimmicks and just give us football
The NFL and Nike is a great marriage, however the “Color Rush” idea has given us few hits with a lot of misses. If teams want to wear and alternate, cool! If they don’t then they shouldn’t be forced to wear one. We don’t want to see the Seahawks in lime green just cause they’re on TNF. It didn’t matter to us then and it won’t matter moving forward.
One gimmick you can keep with the TNF package is the infusion the NFL has with Twitter. It’s a great tool that keeps fans connected with the game on one of social media’s most popular and progressive platforms.
Scale back the schedule and make it feel important.
In the NFL’s current deal for TNF, every team is shown at least once during the season. Not every team should feel special, like the Browns and 49ers. The NFL can look towards the NBA for an idea to showcase their special primetime coverage. NBA on ABC’s Saturday Night coverage has seven teams showcased over nine Saturday nights starting in mid January.
The NFL currently has 18 games on its 2016 TNF slate. That’s way too many and not every team needs to be featured. If you scale it back to just eight games and feature teams and games people actually wanna watch, they will.
Don’t make games “exclusive” to NFL Network
Under the current deal, the TNF games are broadcast on NFL Network, CBS and NBC. Some of the games under the deal are just on NFL Network and that hurts TNF ratings more with that terrible move. The NFL wonders why their games are declining and that’s a reason, letting the world know that your game is going to be on NFL Network and not NBC or CBS usually means it’s a matchup that’s not attractive at all.
With eight games, you can still put the game on NFL Network but broadcast four on CBS and the other four on NBC. There’s nothing wrong with double broadcasts, but putting a game just on NFL Network has me thinking the game will suck. Now is not the time to admit to sucking.
Spread out the schedule, make it worth waiting for.
One of the cool things about the TNF schedule is that we have it coming each week, which is great. However, that’s one of the downfalls of TNF because of the rarity of a good matchup. I mean, outside of Miami and Cincinnati fans can you get excited for the Dolphins and Bengals on Thursday night? No. Don’t even act like you can.
If you spread out the schedule taking a week or two off between a string of games, it gives fans something to look forward to. We’re sheep, we watch the existing TNF package because we’re fans for the NFL. If the NFL makes us wait, the anticipation help build the TNF brand.
Making the perfect TNF Schedule for 2017
OK, now that we’ve gotten why the NFL should stick with it and what the league can do to make it better, it’s time to construct the perfect TNF slate for 2017. You need a few things to make this work out and it’s pretty easy.
Use TNF to enhance or create new stars in the league
Give fans non-traditional games (NO DIVISION MATCHUPS)
Showcase the popular teams in the NFL but not go complete overkill.
Here’s how I’d put together the Thursday Night Football Schedule for 2017, I dare the NFL to do it better. Also, the following games are actual contests that will take place in the 2017-18 season just in case someone wanted to call me out for creating impossible games.
Week 2-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (NBC/NFL Network)
Week 4-Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC/NFL Network)
Week 7-Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots (NBC/NFL Network)
Week 8-Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (NBC/NFL Network)
Week 10-Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles (CBS/NFL Network)
Week 12-Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans (CBS/NFL Network)
Week 13-New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks (CBS/NFL Network)
Week 15-New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (CBS/NFL Network)