If you think about it, it’s remarkable how the NFL has been able to expand itself into the behemoth sport entity that it is today. In the beginning, the NFL practically went an entire work week without satisfying their fans core desire – games. However, we all know in the 1970’s that changed with Monday Night Football (MNF). The NFL built momentum with MNF and it gave fans something to look forward to, after arguably the most loathed day of the week.
It was in 1992 when storytelling in the NFL truly took shape. If MNF gave momentum to the NFL freight-train, it was NFL Films that provided the fuel. Whether the NFL realized it or not, they needed to fill a mid-week void to connect with their audience. NFL Films provided amazing video and audio that were not seen during regular television game broadcasts. The mini-documentaries provided a window into the lives of players and the team, stirring emotions and connecting fans even deeper to the product.
As the NFL grew, so did its need for airtime. In 2006 eight games were played on non-traditional NFL days, five on Thursday and three on Saturday (circumvented by a loophole in the league’s antitrust exemption, the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961).
The 2014 season will see sixteen NFL Regular Season games being played on Thursday nights, and CBS will broadcast them all along with the Thursday Night Football Special “Under The Lights”. With the increasing amount of exposure through sports news channels and of course the internet, one can only assume that “Under The Lights” will make an effort to connect players/teams/the league and viewers on an emotional level.
It should also be noted that steering viewers away from the aforementioned sports news channels an hour prior to kickoff couldn’t hurt either!