PRESS TOUR: Bill Cowher talks Steelers and CBS's 'Thursday Night Football'

Saturday, 19 July 2014 06:00 PM Written by 

 Click here to read Friday's TV Q&A and other posts from the summer TV critics press tour.

cowherBEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- CBS made a one-year deal with the NFL to air eight games on Thursday nights this fall, beginning Sept. 11 with the Pittsburgh Steelers going against the Baltimore Ravens. It’s a deal that seems to be in the better interest of the NFL, which is trying to raise the profile of the NFL Network.

For weeks two through eight of the NFL season (and again on week 16), the games will be simulcast on NFL Network with the benefit of CBS’s on-air broadcast team. (For weeks 9-12 and 14-16, games will air on NFL Network and on local stations.)

CBS would clearly like the deal to go beyond one year but at a CBS press conference Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of the NFL’s goals.

Read more after the jump. ...

“We wanted to take what we had started on the NFL Network, continue to grow the NFL Network, but really create a greater awareness of the NFL on Thursday night in a franchise that we all will be proud of,” he said. “We believe very much in the NFL Network as a strategic asset. I fully anticipate, going forward, that we'll continue to have games on the NFL Network.”

Of course, that could derail CBS’s hopes for making a longer-term deal next year.

“It is our job to show the NFL what we can do and how great it's going to be and how great the partnership is going to be,” said CBS president Leslie Moonves. “And we're confident that at the end of the year, they're going to feel like CBS did a tremendous job. As Roger said, this is a building process. This is the first year. But we're confident that after this year is over, they'll sit down and, hopefully, give us a longer deal than that.”

A pre-game show will begin at 6 p.m. on NFL Network and CBS will begin its pre-game coverage at 7:30 p.m. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher will be part of the broadcast team and unlike on Sunday games, Mr. Cowher will not be in the New York studio; he’ll travel to game locations weekly from New York, where he now makes his home.

“I’m almost having to work for a living now,” Mr. Cowher joked. “I’m looking forward to it. In the past we were only on-site for the Super Bowl.”

Mr. Cowher called the Thursday slate of games “the best they’ve ever had. Every game except one is a divisional game.”

As for his assessment of the Steelers going into a new season, Mr. Cowher sounded an optimistic note.

“I think they’ll be fine,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of speed and I think they’re developing their offensive line. The big key will be staying healthy.”


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