League hopes to tie expanded playoffs to Thursday night package
Last year, the NFL nearly decided to expand the postseason in 2015. The league tapped the brakes for a year. Now, the league reportedly may be tapping the brakes for another year.
But it hardly means the issue is dead. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL currently intends to expand the playoffs for 2016, and to market the TV rights at the same time the current Thursday night package shared by CBS and NFL Network is put out to bid on a multi-year deal.
Obviously, the goal would be to maximize the revenue to be generated by the games. The league apparently believes that selling rights to extra playoff games in 2015 won’t result in the same financial windfall that would come from marketing the rights along with the Thursday night package. (That said, the NFL also is losing the money that would come from selling the TV rights to expanded playoffs in 2016.)
It’s unclear whether the league intends to tie the Thursday night package and the expanded playoff games together, or simply to sell the rights simultaneously. It’s also unclear whether the NFL will have a minimum revenue expectation below which the league simply won’t expand the playoffs. However it all plays out, the goal will be to separate as much money from the interested networks as possible.
Given the ratings, they’ll all be interested.