NFL Network Exclusive Game Series
The current NFL Network logo for its exclusive package of games as of the 2022 season.
Also known as
  • Saturday Night Football (2006–2008)
  • Thursday Night Special (2016)
  • Thursday Night Football: Saturday Edition (2014–2015)
  • NFL Network Special (2016–2022)
GenreNFL football telecasts
Presented byList of NFL Network Exclusive Game Series broadcasters
Opening themeNFL GameDay theme
Ending themeSame as open
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes4 per season
Production locationsVarious NFL stadiums
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time180 minutes or until game ends (inc. adverts)
Production company
Original release
NetworkNFL Network
ReleaseOctober 29, 2017 (2017-10-29) –

NFL Network Exclusive Game Series (formerly called NFL Network Special) is the branding currently used for broadcasts of National Football League (NFL) games aired by NFL Network. Prior to the 2022 NFL season, the NFL Network Special branding was only used on Thursday Night Football (TNF) games not played on Thursdays (from 2022 on it is used for all games); as of 2022, this arrangement has included at least one NFL London Game played in a Sunday morning (U.S. time) window, and one or more late-season games on Saturdays.

After having briefly used Saturday Night Football to brand the games (alongside the overall blanket title Run to the Playoffs), from 2008 through 2016 the games were branded as "special editions" of Thursday Night Football or a variant thereof (such as Thursday Night Special), and later NFL Network Special. The branding NFL Christmas Special has also been used for Christmas Day games in the TNF package, some of which having fallen into this segment of the package).

In the 2022 season, Thursday Night Football moved exclusively to Amazon Prime Video. NFL Network will still carry a package of exclusive games, consisting mainly of international games and late-season Saturday games, with the Thursday Night Football-centric branding having been dropped and replaced by individual brands for each game (such as Saturday Showdown for the late-season tripleheader).

As with all league games carried by a cable network or streaming provider, each game is syndicated to a local broadcast station (or two stations in some cases) in the markets of the two teams, per NFL broadcast rules.


Prior to 2017

NFL Network debuted Thursday Night Football on November 23, 2006, with the Kansas City Chiefs handing the visiting Denver Broncos a 19–10 Thanksgiving defeat. As part of this package, three games aired on Saturday nights, which were accordingly branded as Saturday Night Football (not to be confused with ESPN/ABC's college football telecasts of the same name, which ESPN holds a trademark in relation to),[1] with the package as a whole being promoted as the Run to the Playoffs. This format carried over to the 2007 season. Saturday games can only occur in the final weeks of the season, as the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, requires blackouts of professional football games—held on Friday evenings or Saturdays from mid-September through mid-December—on television stations within 75 miles (121 km) of the venue of a college or high school football game.[2][3][4][5]

Starting in 2008, NFL Network eliminated all but one of the Saturday night games and started their Thursday night package three weeks earlier. In the following season, all references to Saturday Night Football were dropped, with the entire package now being branded as Thursday Night Football, and non-Thursday games being referred to as a "special edition" of Thursday Night Football.

Beginning in 2014, the Thursday Night Football package was sub-licensed to one or more of the NFL's broadcast partners, who produced all games on behalf of NFL Network, and could simulcast selected games in the package on broadcast television.[6][7] These, by extension, included the non-Thursday games of the package, which were in turn produced by CBS (with some later produced by NBC beginning in 2016).[8] These games are intended to satisfy NFL Network's carriage agreements, which require that a quota of exclusive games be broadcast by the channel each season, while still allowing some of the games to be simulcast on network television as well.[2][4]

In 2014, CBS used the branding Thursday Night Football: Saturday Edition for these games—a branding scheme that was especially considered a misnomer when used for a game aired on a Saturday afternoon.[9][10][11][12] By 2016, the games had begun to carry the on-air branding Thursday Night Special (albeit with some fleeting references to Thursday Night Football or TNF still present in on-air graphics),[10] with Christmas Day games assigned to the Thursday Night Football package accordingly using the branding NFL Christmas Special.[13]


By the 2017 season, the branding NFL Network Special was adopted for non-Thursday TNF games exclusive to NFL Network. The games continued to have similar productions to games aired under the Thursday Night Football title, but with their on-air graphics only containing NFL Network branding (rather than being co-branded with the logos of both NFL Network and the host broadcaster).

Beginning in 2018, most NFL Network Special games became Fox productions as part of its new rights to Thursday Night Football. An exception was an NFL London Game on October 10, 2021, which was instead produced by CBS.


Amazon Prime Video holds rights to Thursday Night Football beginning in the 2022 NFL season. There will still be a package of exclusive games on NFL Network, generally consisting of international games airing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and late-season Saturday games.[14] NFL Network now markets the broadcasts as its "exclusive game series",[15] branding the late-season Saturday games with distinct titles such as Saturday Showdown (Late Season Saturday games),[16] and the Holiday Classic (Christmas Eve/Day games). Production of the games was taken back in-house, and a new graphics package by Two Fresh Creative replaced the Thursday Night Football-centric branding used prior.[17][18]

In Week 16 of 2023, NFL Network added a Sunday night game on Christmas Eve in lieu of usual broadcaster NBC (which is airing a afternoon game that Saturday before on December 23), due to the latter producing a Peacock-exclusive game later that same day.



Main article: List of NFL Network Exclusive Game Series results (2006–present)





See also


  1. ^ Tue, Dec 23rd 2014 4:02am-Timothy Geigner (23 December 2014). "How ESPN's Purely Descriptive Trademark Turned A Saturday Into A Thursday". Techdirt. Retrieved 2021-11-26.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Lucia, Joe (2021-03-03). "More Thursday Night Football games will reportedly be Amazon exclusive in new round of TV deals". Awful Announcing. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
  3. ^ Koerner, Brendan (2004-09-14). "Why you can't show the NFL on Saturday". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  4. ^ a b "NBC, CBS will share Thursday Night Football". NBC Sports Washington. 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  5. ^ "NFL aims to boost network with 'Thursday Night Football' bidding war". New York Post. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  6. ^ "CBS to broadcast eight Thursday night football games in 2014". Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "CBS to broadcast NFL games on Thursday in 2014". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  8. ^ "CBS & NBC To Share 'Thursday Night Football' With NFL Network; League Eyes "Tri-Cast" With Digital Partner". February 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Thursday Night Football on Saturday is just so silly". Awful Announcing. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  10. ^ a b "People hated Thursday Night Football on Sunday". Awful Announcing. 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  11. ^ Sherman, Rodger (2014-12-20). ""Thursday Night Football: Saturday Edition" ?!?!??". Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  12. ^ "NFL Network airs Thursday Night Football on a Saturday, confuses everyone". For The Win. 2014-12-20. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  13. ^ "NFL Week 16: TNF Hits Season-High For Christmas Finale". Sports Media Watch. 2017-12-29. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  14. ^ "NFL completes long-term media distribution agreements through 2033 season". NFL. March 18, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  15. ^ " | Official Site of the National Football League". Retrieved 2022-11-18.
  17. ^ Fang, Ken (2022-12-24). "TV and Streaming Viewing Picks for December 24, 2022: how to watch NFL Week 16 games". Awful Announcing. Retrieved 2022-12-25.
  18. ^ "NFL Network Exclusive Games Series Motion Graphics Gallery". NewscastStudio. Retrieved 2023-04-25.