Can CBS Make You Watch Thursday Night Football?

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A news break is out from multiple sources, showing that CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) will produce a full slate of 16 NFL games. The problem is that this is the Thursday Night Football package.

Football is big business in America. The problem is that Thursday Night Football has been considered dead by comparison to Sunday for quite some time – even with higher ratings last year. TVbytheNumbers showed that ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS and Turner were all bidding for Thursday Night Football. The report says,

“CBS will air eight early season games that also will be simulcast on NFL Network. NFL Network will also televise eight late-season games in the run-up to the playoffs. The mix of games will include 14 on Thursday nights and two late-season games on Saturday.”

The good news is that Thursday Night Football ratings were up in 2013. The bad news is that is still not even half of the Sunday lineup games. Yahoo! Sports showed the figures around the initial bidding as follows:

NFL Network’s Thursday night games were viewed by an average of 8 million viewers for a 13-game schedule in 2013, a 10 percent boost from 2012 but still far below NBC’s average 21.5 million viewers for its Sunday night contests.

CBS shares have already backed off marginally from their highs after the news. The stock is up 0.3% at $58.05, versus a daily range of $56.75 to $58.57 and a 52-week range of $41.33 to $64.06.

What CBS investors need to consider is that the company’s stock market value is already worth almost $35 billion. It simply may not be enough to move the needle here, particularly if ratings and/or advertising dip again. Now CBS just needs to figure out how to keep the guys from going out to that happy hour on Thursday after work looking for other things besides a football game on television.