Thursday night football is going to look a little different when it kicks off in 2014. That's because the NFL is putting the Thursday night package up for grabs.
ESPN, NBC, CBS, Fox and Turner Sports are all expected to bid on the Thursday night package, according to the Sports Business Journal. Bids for the package are due on Jan. 17, although it's not clear when the NFL will announce who the winning bidder is.
Under the new Thursday night plan, the winning bidder will air Thursday night games, but the game might also end up being simulcasted on the NFL Network. For instance, if Fox wins the Thursday night package, then Thursday night games would be shown on Fox and the NFL Network. SBJ calls the simulcasting scenario likely, but it hasn't been set in stone yet.
SBJ has also reported that the Thursday night deal would only run for one year -- through the 2014 season.
No matter who wins the bidding, NBC would still have rights to air the first Thursday night game of the year on NFL kickoff weekend. The winning bidder would most likely air 13 Thursday night games in 2014. The NFL Network produced 13 games in 2013, but didn't air a Thursday night game in Week 1, Week 17 or on Thanksgiving.
If ESPN wins the package, Thursday night games could end up being televised on ABC, according to SBJ. ABC hasn't televised an NFL game since Super Bowl XL in 2006. ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney.