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How Much Money CBS And NBC Will Lose On Thursday Night Football

Success on television is never an assured thing, unless you happen to be the NFL, as even the crappiest prime time game will bring in pretty astounding ratings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the networks airing the games are quite so flush with money, and it looks like the NFL’s recent Thursday Night Football deal with CBS and NBC is going to be a huge financial burden for the networks, to the tune of over $80 million for each during the 2016-2017 season. You can buy like two Super Bowl tickets with that kind of money.

Obviously it wasn’t the NFL, CBS or NBC making this statement, as that wouldn’t be very smart of them, but rather Benjamin Swinburne, an analyst for the financial corporation Morgan Stanley. He and a team of other analysts have gone over the cost-hemorrhaging effect that Thursday Night Football had for CBS over the past two years, and made some predictions about what the new deal is actually worth for the two networks. And those numbers surprisingly look downright awful, according to Business Insider.

The Thursday Night Football deal went for a whopping $450 million, with five games to be aired on CBS, after which NBC will get their five games. According to Swinburne’s data, the combined revenue the networks will make will be around $215.5 million, but with production costs coming in around $24.7 million and the exorbitant rights fees going for $363 million, that means around $172.3 million will be lost revenue for CBS and NBC, and each will be out around $86 million.

And if the current projections are correct – they were made prior to the deal being official, but after it was first reported on – the same deal will put each network out around $15 million more dollars in 2017, and another $9 million on top of that in 2018, which would put the loss of income over $100 million. That’s slightly more than the losses CBS faced over the past two years under its former Thursday Night Football deal with the NFL, which saw them losing around $230 million in total.

While NFL games do bring in huge ratings, the networks would probably be better just airing their regular primetime showings, according to Swinburne’s numbers. Surely the always high-rated Big Bang Theory and the rest of CBS’ Thursday lineup would be a better option financially. Though with NBC’s recent so-so success on the night, it’s not clear just how much better they would be doing.

I guess if the networks are losing all that money, they won’t be able to install fart detectors to see who’s interrupting broadcasts with passed gas. In any case, don’t forget to check out Super Bowl 50 and all of its crazy and expensive commercials on Sunday, February 7, on CBS.

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.