(Jan. 28, 2006) -- NFL Network, the NFL's two-year-old television channel, will begin airing a "run up to the playoffs" package of eight primetime regular-season NFL games starting in the 2006 season, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced.
The eight-game package will consist of primetime games airing from Thanksgiving to the end of the regular season on Thursday and/or Saturday nights.
The inaugural game of the package is scheduled for Thanksgiving night on Thursday, Nov. 23, as part of a new Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. Games telecast on NFL Network will include pregame and postgame shows.
"After discussing this new package of games with many potential partners, we decided it would be best presented on our own, high-quality NFL Network, which has developed so rapidly that the time had come to add live regular-season games to the programming," Commissioner Tagliabue said. "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."
NFL Network will make all of its games available on free, over-the-air television in the participating team markets, continuing the NFL's long-standing practice of making all of its games, including the playoffs and Super Bowl, available on free, over-the-air television.
"The NFL has traditionally been at the forefront of innovation and new technology dating back to starting NFL Films in the '60s, and Pete Rozelle and Roone Arledge creating Monday Night Football in 1970," said Commissioner Tagliabue. "With NFL Network, we are creating a fresh, innovative programming package that will complement all of our television partners."
NFL Network's new eight-game package was created by shifting Saturday and Sunday games from previous arrangements. In November of 2004, CBS and FOX agreed to extend their packages for six more years. NBC and ESPN last April secured rights for six and eight years, respectively.
"It was decided after surveying the rapidly evolving media landscape that a year-round channel dedicated to our sport was the best way to continue to develop and serve our fan base," NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein said. "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."
Agreements for all available NFL television packages now are concluded. Following are the rights holders beginning in 2006:
- 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]