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NFL still mulling Thursday night offers

The NFL Network will now be carried by

The NFL Network will now be carried by Cablevision. (Aug. 16, 2012) Credit: AP

The NFL continues to mull offers from a gaggle of media entities for a piece of its 13-game Thursday night package, but no deal appears imminent - at least not during Super Bowl week.

Brian Rolapp, the league's executive vice president for media, discussed the situation in broad terms Thursday after a news conference to announce a new video service called "NFL Now" that is launching this summer.

The NFL plans to strike a one-year agreement with a TV partner that would cover some of the games the league currently keeps for itself on the NFL Network, but the plan is for those games to be simulcast on the NFL Network.

"The way we’re considering it is it’s just additional reach for the game," Rolapp said of the simulcast idea.

The larger idea - other than raising additional revenue - is to make the Thursday night package a bigger deal to fans, eventually on par with Sunday and Monday nights on NBC and ESPN.

The NFL Network is in 72 million homes. Putting the Thursday games on a broadcast network would increase that figure by about 50 percent.

"We think it’s in our interest and our fans’ best interest to get that into more homes," Rolapp said. Doing so for only one year initially "allows us to experiment to see what works . . . We're not in position to make a long-term determination of where those games will sit."

Come 2015 there presumably will be a longer-term arrangement for Thursday nights.

"We're pretty confident that a full slate of prime time NFL games will do well economically no matter when we go to market," Rolapp said.

Carving a new Thursday night deal out of the existing arrangement is a delicate operation for the NFL, because the price it charges distributors per subscriber per month is based in part on how many live games it carries.

New York Sports