The NFL has a simple, but important problem with 'Thursday Night Football' -- people don't know what channel it is on

When “Thursday Night Football” made its debut in 2006, it was a delight to football fans across the country.

Originally dubbed as the “Run to the Playoffs,” the early years of the broadcast consisted of just five games on Thursday nights, as well as three games branded as “Saturday Night Football” on (you guessed it) Saturday. The broadcasts didn’t begin until later in the season, and offered fans another chance to watch primetime football while giving the still fairly new NFL Network a regular ratings foothold.

Since those humble beginnings though, the brand of “Thursday Night Football” has grown, now offering games every week of the year through any number of permutations of channels. 

This has caused one of the simple, yet central problems with “Thursday Night Football” — it’s difficult to be sure what channel it will be on from week to week.

Unlike its primetime counterparts “Sunday Night Football”  and “Monday Night Football,” which find their respective homes at NBC and ESPN, respectively, “Thursday Night Football” now jumps between NFL Network, NBC, CBS, and Amazon depending on what week of the season it is and which teams are playing.

The 2017 season opened with a Thursday night thriller between the Chiefs and Patriots, in which Kansas City shocked the football world and took down the defending champions. But this game was on NBC, rather than NFL Network, and to add to the confusion, was billed as a “Thursday night edition of Sunday Night Football” because it was technically part of the “Sunday Night Football” package.

This Thursday’s game between the Buccaneers and Patriots will be found on the NFL Network and CBS for most viewers, but fans in local markets will have to head to CBS to catch the game. For the latter half of the year though, local viewers will instead find their games on NBC.

And to those who have cut the cord and opt strictly for streaming games now, you can find some, but not all, “Thursday Night Football” games on Amazon Prime.

A similar problem also afflicts the London games that now populate more and more of our NFL Sundays. This season, of the four games that are to be held in London, two earned spots on FOX, one on NFL Network, and one could only be found by logging on to Yahoo Sports.

While it’s a simple enough problem to solve —  Google will always point you in the right direction — it’s a bit odd that people have to scan through a series of options in order to find the biggest sport in America playing in primetime.

“Thursday Night Football” games have felt more competitive this season than in the past few years. Now people just have to find them.

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