Most fans of the National Football League will tell you that they enjoy having football on three different days a week during the regular season. Television ratings would reflect that. If they could play game on Tuesday's, most would be behind that idea. For many, more football is good football.
But isn't too much of a good thing a bad thing, too?
The inception of games on Thursday night came about in 2006 when the NFL Network showed Kansas City and Denver on Thanksgiving night. Also remember that those early games were blacked out in markets that did not feature the local team. Eventually, the blackout rules were lifted and we were all treated to Thursday night games in the last half of the season. In 2012, their package went from 8 to 13 games.
And then the NFL Network went looking for a broadcast network suitor.
The network offered 7 of its 14 games to the highest bidder. $275 million later, CBS was able to land the rights to half of those games for the 2014 season, while also simulcasting them on the NFL Network. Football on Thursday night is now a weekly thing, and has two major network homes for nine of those games.
For anyone who has watched television, you've probably heard the phrase "Jumping the Shark."
It was made popular by Happy Days when the Fonz literally jumped a shark on water skis. After that, the quality of the show started to diminish.
Is this Thursday Night Football's "Jumping the Shark" moment?
Again, my argument might be invalid due to television ratings. Not even the events involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Jonathon Dwyer and the discontent with Roger Goodell can keep viewers away.
Besides that, lets look at some of the reasons why TNF possibly jumped the shark.
The first part of my argument would be the number of games.
Thanksgiving night was really the start of the Thursday night lineup on NFL Network before the 2012 season. The games mean more in late November, going into the last month of the season.
Having a Thursday night game every week during the season can make the product go stale after some time. Having 16 games guarantees that every team plays in one, but that could result in you watching poor matchups or lopsided games.
Which brings me to my second argument.
The games on Thursday night over the past year or so have not been that exciting.
Having games that are on the same level as a late game on CBS or FOX, Sunday night on NBC and Monday Night Football on ESPN has to be the goal for the NFL when scheduling these matchups on Thursday's. Unfortunately, a good number of them are ones that could be lost in the 1pm schedule on a Sunday. You know, the one you see scoring plays from on NFL Redzone or your market gets stuck with since your team is on a bye?
Almost every game on the Thursday night schedule on CBS/NFL Network in 2014 feature divisional matchups.
While scheduling divisional games can catch the eye of viewers, it doesn't guarantee good matchups. We saw that with the 2013 Thursday Night Football schedule, even though the TV rating were up.
The first three weeks of the NFL's new Thursday night package have not provided exciting results.
Week 2: Ravens 26, Steelers 6
Week 3: Falcons 56, Buccaneers 14
Week 4: Giants 45, Redskins 14
Next week, the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers will play at Lambeau. Teddy Bridgewater is now the starting quarterback for Minnesota and the Packers are reeling a bit. So, the quality may not be great.
Is it fair to compare a weeknight football game on CBS to a television show when talking quality? Well, NBC is proud to say that Sunday Night Football is America's number one rated show in primetime on Sunday's. So yes, it seems fair.
If the games continue to be lopsided, more people might speak up and say that there is an over-saturation of football on Thursday night. It will be a very small number, because people will still watch because it's the NFL, and because it's on their television.
This will never happen because the NFL likes money, and fans like football. But perhaps down the road, the NFL reduces the number of game from 14 back to 7 starting in mid-November when games really start to matter?
Again, never will happen. As stated earlier, television ratings will tell me I'm wrong. That's fine, but I might find myself watching a college football game on ESPN or Fox Sports 1 instead if the game on CBS or NFL Network is lousy. The NFL won't miss me one bit, but they will milk Thursday night games for all they're worth.
Update (October 2, 2014, 10:10pm): The Packers are up 28-0 on the Vikings, who have Christian Ponder at quarterback with Bridgewater injured. You're probably watching Royals-Angels right now, huh?
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