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Fox buys NFL's Thursday night football rights for 5 years

/ Source: Associated Press

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Fox and the NFL have agreed to a five-year deal for Thursday night football games.

Those games previously were televised by CBS and NBC, two of the league's other network partners. But Fox announced Wednesday that it will televise 11 games between Weeks 4 and 15, with simulcasts on NFL Network and Fox Deportes.

Fox, which has the Sunday afternoon NFC package, will produce all of the games.

"This is a single partner deal, we are not splitting the package," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We had tremendous amount of interest from all the broadcast partners, all of whom wanted it exclusively. We felt this was the best opportunity for the NFL to grow the Thursday night package."

Goodell added the league is exploring partnerships with digital outlets, also in conjunction with Fox.

Image:
Philadelphia Eagles' Corey Graham celebrates after intercepting a pass during the second half of their NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings in Philadelphia on Jan. 21.Matt Slocum / AP

The NFL has broadcast deals "five years out" with its other partners — ESPN has the Monday night package — so five years on this agreement made sense.

"Fundamentally, Fox was built on football," said Peter Rice, the president of 21st Century Fox, nothing that 25 years ago, the NFC package "helped launch a fledgling network into what it is today."

"These opportunities come along very, very infrequently," he added. "You either have the rights to the most-watched content in media or you don't. If you don't take the opportunity, this won't come up again for five years. We believe in buying the very best rights, and the best rights are the NFL."

CBS and NBC each paid $450 million for the previous two-year package.

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