My latest Chicago Tribune column is on the debut of CBS’ new Thursday night package tonight.
You also can access the column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.
From the column:
As fate would have it, during a week in which the NFL is dealing with the immense fallout from the Ray Rice videos, the league will kick off its new CBS primetime package at Baltimore Thursday.
That means the Rice saga and its overtones will dominate the coverage of the Ravens-Pittsburgh game on CBS. Whether it will impact the ratings seems to be an inappropriate question, given the circumstances. It is highly likely both the NFL and CBS would have preferred that Baltimore was playing in a regionally-televised Sunday game this week.
Instead, the Ravens and the controversy will be squarely in the national spotlight.
“We’re obviously going to address it,” said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus. “I’m sure our guys will have strong thoughts as they always do on all these topics. Basically, we say to them, ‘We’re going to give you enough time to express your opinion.’”
Ironically, the new Thursday night package is one of the reasons why the owners are so loyal to Commissioner Roger Goodell. He continues to find new ways to make them money.
Last winter, CBS signed a one-year deal to air Thursday night games in weeks 2 through 8, plus a Saturday game on week 16; the telecasts also will be simulcast on NFL Network. In addition to making the huge investment estimated in the $300 million neighborhood, the network committed its No. 1 team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms not only for the CBS games, but they also will call the remainder of the package when it finishes exclusively on NFL Network.
And it goes beyond Nantz and Simms. McManus said only the network’s coverage of a Super Bowl will have more cameras and technical gizmos than for what will be used for the Thursday night games.
“We’re going to do a lot of things to make this look and feel different on Thursday nights,” McManus said.