LOS ANGELES — CBS is going with brawn over brains on Thursday nights this fall.
"The Big Bang Theory" — and all of the other regularly scheduled scripted shows on the Thursday night CBS lineup — will be bumped for two months by the network's new "NFL Thursday Night Football."
CBS will simulcast seven of the 16 Thursday night games that are part of the The NFL Network's 16-game broadcast schedule. Since 2006, the NFL has been showing Thursday night games on its cable channel. The addition of CBS means that fans who don't have cable can watch the games.
"What we have seen over several years is that there's tremendous demand for more football, and particularly on Thursday night. And we believe there is an opportunity to build Thursday night. We are huge believers in broadcast television. We believe that a distinguishing factor between the NFL and many other sports is that we continue to be successful on broadcast television," says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The NFL season begins Thursday night with NBC's broadcast of the battle between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. "CBS Thursday Night Football" kicks off at 8:25 p.m. Sept. 11 with the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Although the schedule only calls for seven games to air Thursday nights on CBS, the network is treating the package almost like a Super Bowl telecast — from advertising featuring stars of CBS programs to the equipment being used to broadcast the game.
How long the NFL and CBS will continue this Thursday partnership is a little unclear. The NFL has only officially committed to one season. CBS president Les Moonves sees this as just the start of a long run for the Thursday schedule.
One negative of playing on Thursday night is the short week for the teams to prepare. The NFL is working on scheduling to try to make sure teams aren't having to travel from coast to coast during short weeks.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is chairman of the NFL broadcast committee, has heard no complaints about Thursday games.
"I could just tell you from the Patriots' point of view and Coach (Bill) Belichick, he likes the Thursday night football games and would be happy to have more than one in a season, because after you play a short week … you get 10 days off. So it's almost like having a second bye," Kraft says.
Goodell and the league are committed to Thursday night games.
"We are seeing this is a great opportunity for their football team, for their communities to be on a national stage. And every team in the NFL is going to appear on Thursday night," Goodell says. "That's a great thing for our league, and something that I don't believe any other league can say," .