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“Thursday Night Football” may have more compelling games on its schedule next season. NFL owners will be asked during next week’s league meetings to approve a flex plan for Thursday night games that go into effect for the 2023 season, according to the Sports Business Journal.
The main purpose of passing the flex plan would be to eliminate Thursday night games between losing teams. If the plan passes, the NFL would be permitted to shift Sunday afternoon games to Thursday night from weeks 14-17 with 15 days notice. The league would also be permitted to schedule teams for Thursday night games after a previous Sunday game on two occasions. Currently, a team can only play one game on Thursday night after playing a Sunday night game.
While there is optimism that the proposal will pass, there are reasons to believe that it could be voted down by the owners. NFL coaches, for one, are not fans of schedule changes, especially during the season. Safety also becomes a concern as teams could be asked to play more games on short weeks.
Amazon’s first season with “Thursday Night Football” drew an average viewership of 9.6 million, according to Neilsen. While that is a solid number, it was a 46 percent decline from the previous season when Thursday night games were broadcast on Fox and NFL Network. Games that did not have significant playoff implications may have contributed to the decline in viewership.
There’s also the issue of fans who purchase tickets well in advance of their game. The possibility of more games being flexed may cause more hesitation from fans who are considering purchasing tickets ahead of the game they plan on attending.
For a proposal to pass, it must receive 75 percent of the vote, meaning that 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners must vote in favor of the proposal. Given the NFL’s commitment to generating revenue, the safe bet is that the owners will pass the proposal, even if it goes against the wishes of coaches, players and fans.