It’s good to be king.
That’s the likely take-away of many network executives after reading the NFL’s request for proposal -- or demands -- letter regarding a new Thursday night package of games.
The NFL Network airs 13 Thursday night games. The league wants to take some of those games -- six or eight -- and use them for another TV package on a different channel. This would create a new revenue stream for a league that never tires of growing its television revenue.
But the NFL doesn’t want to throw its own channel under the bus. It is asking whoever gets the new Thursday package to also allow the NFL Network to simulcast those telecasts, a person with knowledge of the proposal said, confirming a report in Sports Business Journal.
Not only that, the league has also said that it would like whoever gets the Thursday games to produce the games that would remain exclusive to the NFL Network as well.
The NFL declined to comment.
Such requests may be hard to swallow and will certainly test the strength of NFL content with the potential suitors. The cable networks most mentioned as potential bidders for the Thursday contract are Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, TNT and possibly CBS Sports Network.
One of the appeals of having NFL games is that it is exclusive content. Those networks want the NFL because it would give them leverage in negotiating contracts with distributors.
But if the content is not exclusive, then it will be tougher to squeeze better distribution and higher fees. It could also blow back on the NFL Network for the same reasons.
The league has some sense that its requests may push some buttons, which is why it is offering only a short-term Thursday package. If its requests are too much, then it will probably be content to keep all the games on its own network.
Still, the NFL isn’t used to hearing no very often so it will be interesting to see who balks and who plays ball.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.