Flexing NFL Thursday night games a bad idea that’s all about the money

Fans who like to travel to games have to be leery about buying tickets or making travel arrangements for games played in weeks 13 to 17 on Thursday nights.

During that five-week period, the NFL will be allowed to flex two games to Thursday nights. They will be streamed on Amazon. It is another example that greed is good in the NFL these days.

At the recent owners meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell needed 24 votes to pass the measure and he got exactly that number. He was two votes shy in the March meetings. To get it passed, the league agreed to notify teams 28 days in advance instead of 15 that a game may be flexed.

If no games are flexed to Thursday night this year, the league will try it again next year. If they are, Goodell will need 24 votes to pass it again next year.

It is interesting the “no” votes were the Raiders, Lions, Bengals, Steelers, Giants, Bears, Jets and Packers.

The Packers are a community-owned team and except for the Jets, the rest of the teams are family-owned and date their ownership at least back to 1963. And Giants co-owner John Mara was very vocal in his opposition. Those owners didn’t pay billions for the team the way many of the more recent owner have, so they may be more attuned to what is best for the game and the fans rather than how much revenue the games bring in.

Flexing Thursday night games shows how desperate the league is to improve the Prime ratings since they are getting a billion dollars a year for 11 years for the package.

Last year the ratings averaged only 9.6 million viewers on Thursday nights, a drop of over 40 percent from the previous year when the games weren’t streamed.

The streaming, though, may be more of a problem than the matchups. The technology has to improve because the picture sometimes freezes and it is a hassle to go back and forth between network program and streaming.

The league did seem to make an effort to give Prime better late season games this year. The Cowboys-Seahawks and Steelers-Patriots in weeks 13-14 don’t figure to be flexed. The final three are Chargers-Raiders, Saints-Rams and Jets-Browns. It remains to be seen if those are attractive matches late in the season.

Meanwhile, the NFL may find out that streaming games simply isn’t ready for prime time and that it has to accept fewer viewers in exchange for the big payday..

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