The NFL announced that they'll air eight primetime games on their two-year old NFL Network beginning in late November, 2006.
The kickoff of the network's games will be Thanksgiving night, creating a triple-header when added to the traditional games hosted in Detroit and Dallas in the afternoon. The NFL Network plans to have pregame and postgame shows as part of their coverage.
For all eight of the games, fans in the participating team's home markets will still be able to view the games for free through their local Fox or CBS network affiliates, as appropriate.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue explained that while the NFL had considered broadcast partners for the new 8-game package, "In the end, we wanted these games on our network, which is devoted 24/7 to the sport of football, and not on a multi-sport network."
The league worked with their current broadcast partners to shift eight previously scheduled Saturday and Sunday games into the package.
NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein made it clear that the NFL plans to approach the coverage of these games in an innovative manner.
"This is an opportune time to present these games ourselves and develop new ways to deliver the game of football at all levels to sports fans," he said.
The rights holders for games beginning in 2006 are as follows:
· CBS -- AFC package -- Sunday afternoons [1 & 4 p.m. ET]
· FOX -- NFC package -- Sunday afternoons [1 & 4 p.m. ET]
· NBC -- Primetime broadcast package -- Sunday evenings [8:15 p.m. ET]
· ESPN -- Monday Night Football package -- Monday evenings [8:30 p.m. ET]
· NFL Network -- Special Late-Season package -- Thursday and/or Saturday evenings [8 p.m. ET] (beginning Thanksgiving)
· DirecTV -- Sunday Ticket satellite package [1 & 4 p.m. ET]
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