Happy Thanksgiving: NFL Adds More Thursday Night Games

NFL Network's "Thursday Night Football" package will be expanded from eight games to thirteen, starting with the 2012-13 season. The additional number of games, called by Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, can only help the eight-year-old network's quest in being carried by cable companies that have given it the shaft for years.

Going back to the days of the old AFL, there have been the traditional Thanksgiving afternoon games.

In 2002, the NFL implemented the season “kickoff” game to be played on a Thursday night to open the season.

Then in 2006, the then three-year-old NFL Network began an eight-game Thursday night game schedule.

Looks like this Thursday football thing is starting to catch on.

The league has announced today that, effective next season, they will be adding even more Thursday night games, all to be aired on NFL Network, which would bring the total of games played on Thursdays during the regular season from 12 to 17.

NFL Network will now carry thirteen “Thursday Night Football” games, with one game each Thursday from Week 2 to Week 15, with the exception of Thanksgiving (which usually falls during Week 12 of the NFL season).

Remember, starting this year, the Thanksgiving night game, which had aired on NFL Network for as long as they’ve had the Thursday night package, moves to NBC starting this season. It will be one of two regular-season Thursday night games that NBC will air, with the other being the “kickoff” game, which enters its 11th year this fall, and seventh year on NBC.

So, it looks like losing the Thanksgiving night game in exchange for six more regular season Thursday games sounds like a good deal for NFL Network. And with Thursday night games now being played for well over the majority of the average regular season – most of them on NFL Network – it can only help the channel’s efforts to finally strike carriage deals with cable companies and providers that still don’t carry it, notably Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Bright House.

Anything to keep Rich Eisen from pleading to “TNF” viewers watching by way of local broadcast channels to pressure their cable companies about the absence of NFL Network on their rosters.

But Rich’s point is certainly well taken. Because if NFL Network doesn’t gain any additional cable carriers with additional regular season games – and possibly playoff games down the line – it is those cable carriers that are truly turkeys – six ways from Thursday.

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