/// Thursday Night Is a Game-Changer for NFL Network

August 29, 2013  |  Media Week

Adding five Thursday Night Football games to its lineup has paid handsome dividends for NFL Network, enabling the league’s in-house TV outlet to boost its carriage fees by as much as 41 percent. According to SNL Kagan estimates, NFL Network in 2013 charges operators an average affiliate fee of $1.34 per subscriber per month, a sharp increase from the $0.95 a pop the channel commanded a year ago. The new pricing scheme now places NFL Net second among all cable properties, surpassing TNT ($1.29) and the non-ad supported Disney Channel ($0.99). At the top of the carriage fee food chain is ESPN, which rakes in a princely fee of $5.45 per sub per month, up from $5.01 in 2012. Given NFL Network’s recent subscriber gains (the channel now reaches 69.7 million homes, up 10 percent from the year-ago 63.2 million), overall affiliate revenue is expected to increase 56 percent to $1.12 billion. The 2012 campaign marked the first in which NFL Net carried nearly a full season’s worth of live games. Over the course of 13 telecasts, the network averaged 6.35 million viewers and a 2.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. While NFL Network seems to get fed the league’s table scraps (last year’s games included a lopsided 31-13 scrum between the 1-7 Kansas City Chiefs and the 4-4 San Diego Chargers), a handful of early games scared up big numbers. The first TNF game of 2012, an NFC North grudge match between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, delivered 8.56 million viewers and a 3.8 in the dollar demo, while the Browns and Ravens battled on Sept. 27 in front of a national TV audience of 8.05 million viewers. A late defensive stand by Baltimore secured a win over division rival Cleveland; per Nielsen, the game averaged a 3.3 among the 18-49 set. The live-plus-same-day ratings do not take into account local deliveries in each team’s home market. Naturally, the beefed up NFL slate helped boost the network’s fourth-quarter ratings. NFL Net averaged 751,000 total viewers in Q4 prime, up 12 percent versus the prior-year 668,000. The dollar demo was up 13 percent to 378,000 adults 18-49.

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Thursday Night Is a Game-Changer for NFL Network


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