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NFL may offer NFL Network stake in Thursday Night Football package

American football’s NFL may offer a stake in its NFL Network cable-television channel as part of its Thursday Night Football package of rights, according to the New York Post newspaper.

The CBS network has a one-season deal to broadcast eight Thursday night games during the first half of the 2015-16 campaign – an agreement reportedly worth $300m (€283m). CBS also broadcast Thursday Night Football in the 2014-15 under a one-year deal.

However, the Hollywood Reporter magazine this week reported that the NFL is expected to award Thursday Night Football rights for a multi-year period from the 2016-17 campaign, possibly through to the 2021-22 season. The rights could be worth up to $600m.

The NFL is now said to be considering offering an extended 16-game package, which includes a stake in NFL Network, to protect the channel and generate additional revenue for the league.

CBS, US network Fox, domestic cable-television broadcaster TNT and the NBC Sports Group division of US media company NBCUniversal are all said to be interested in the extended package. Talks with US sports broadcaster ESPN are reported to have failed.

NFL Network’s contracts with cable, satellite and telecommunications operators stipulate that the NFL must keep eight games exclusively on the network.

Talks over the next cycle of rights are due to begin in January.