The NFL may explore the possibility of letting an online video distributor carry a new slate of Thursday night games, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The league is reportedly considering adding more Thursday night games and licensing them to a new distribution partner. Its current lineup of nationally-televised games on Thursday nights, which it carries on its NFL Network, has failed to attract enough viewers to satisfy the league, which believes adding another game could create more interest, the Journal reported.
The story in the Journal follows a report this summer in AllThingsD (which like the Journal is owned by News Corp.) that the NFL had met with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) CEO Larry Page and a top YouTube executive for a discussion that included the NFL's package of out-of-market games currently licensed by DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV).
It's not clear how interested in this deal online distributors would be. On one hand, there's arguably no programming more valuable than a live NFL game--just look at the Super Bowl. But the NFL Network's struggles to build an audience of its own suggest NFL games are not necessarily "can't fail" material.
Moreover, not all of the league's potential partners online sell advertising. A distributor such as Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) may not want to bid against pay-TV networks and online distributors that could tap marketers to cover the programming's cost.
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