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Thursday Night Football

Thursday Night Football
NameThursday Night Football
StarringBrad Nessler
Mike Mayock
Alex Flanagan
Rich Eisen
Marshall Faulk
Steve Mariucci
Deion Sanders
Fran Charles
Jim Mora
Kurt Warner
Sterling Sharpe
Country of originUnited States
Running time180 minutes+
Original channelNFL Network
First airedNovember 23, 2006
Last airedpresent

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'Thursday Night Football' is the brand name used by NFL Network for its schedule of live regular season telecasts of National Football League games on Thursday nights. Also included in the package are some Saturday specials.

The eight-game package debuted on November 23, 2006, with the Kansas City Chiefs handing the visiting Denver Broncos a 19 � 10 Thanksgiving defeat. Most games kick off at 8:20 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). Five games aired on Thursday nights, the other three on Saturday nights. Each game would be called either Thursday Night Football or Saturday Night Football, depending on the night on which it appears; the package as a whole was known as the Run to the Playoffs. This format carried over to the 2007 season. However, starting in 2008, NFL Network eliminated all but one of the Saturday night games as well as starting their Thursday night package three weeks earlier. This was to accommodate the earlier schedule and the league's antitrust exemption, which prohibits Saturday games during college football season. In the 2009 season, all references to "Saturday Night Football" were dropped and any games not played on Thursday were referred to as Thursday Night Football Special Edition.

The game package is highly controversial mainly due to the relative unavailability of NFL Network compared to other cable stations such as ESPN or over-the-air affiliates. In most markets NFL Network is only available through premium tier packages, with war of words frequently being exchanged between the NFL and cable companies to get the channel moved to basic cable. Due to anti-trust regulations the NFL is contractually obligated to offer the broadcast to a local over-the-air station. Therefore the away team and (assuming a sellout) the home team markets will see the game regardless of cable availability of the channel. This stipulation also applies to ESPN broadcasts of Monday Night Football.

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