Yesterday, details of a proposed collective bargaining agreement leaked out from a variety of sources. While no vote has been cast and there are still hurdles to completion, optimism is pretty high right now. The owners and players are renewing negotiations today and tomorrow in Boston as they look to focus in on the differences and get a deal hammered out. The NFL had scheduled a one-day meeting for yesterday, but the league told the owners it might stretch late in the day or into a second day if needed. The second day was not needed and I choose to look at the glass as half full: there was not significant opposition to the proposal.
As we wait to hear more details, I thought it would make for some good discussion to take a look at some of the specifics within the proposal. Until a deal is officially hammered out, we remain without football, which means not a whole ton to talk about. This is a bit better than normal labor posts because these are actual proposals that will impact the game, and not just the usual bickering.
One of the bullet points in the proposal was a potential 16-game Thursday Night Football television package. The NFL season has been kicking off on a Thursday and has a mix of Thursday NFL Network games (along with Thanksgiving games). This new deal would expand on Thursday football to create a 16-game slate as soon as 2012. I was poking around on Twitter yesterday and somebody (can't remember who) mentioned that the full schedule might not actually be implemented until 2014 when a new television deal will go into place.
For the purposes of this current CBA, the Thursday Night Football bullet point would seem to be almost a footnote to the important division of revenue. However, the owners and players likely view a new slate of prime time games as a fairly simple way to boost revenue. Whether the NFL Network would air the games or another network would join in, there is plenty of money to be made.
My initial thought is that there does not seem to be much, if any, downside to this idea. It's a chance to bring in more revenue and since percentage of revenue is such a big issue, it makes sense to create more revenue opportunities. I don't know the numbers a Thursday TV deal would generate, but given how well the NFL has done in ratings and how popular the league was prior to the labor dispute, it's safe to say the league can add a nice chunk of change with this option.