CBS' Thursday Night Football: What you will see, won't see, and might see

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Image Credit: CBS

CBS is playing ball on Thursdays, thanks to the weighty acquisition of Thursday Night Football for the network’s fall season. But what will its football tailgate plans entail?

During the network’s day on the Television Critics Association press tour, CBS chief Les Moonves, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, chairman and CEO of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft, and CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus took to the stage for a Thursday Night Football Panel, revealing details about the network’s plans for airing the buzzy weekly event.

WHAT YOU WILL SEE: Players on TV shows

CBS’ scripted stars have done some light promotion for the big Thursday Night Football acquisition—see this delightful promo, for example—but Moonves promised that the coin will flip the other way as well during the fall season. “You’ll get to see some NFL-themed programs within our own entertainment shows, where you’ll see players, coaches, even potentially owners who are not camera shy starring in some of our TV shows,” Moonves said. “The entire company is behind NFL on Thursday night at CBS.”

WHAT YOU WON’T SEE: 3-D football

Networks have been dabbling in using 3-D camera technology to cover sporting events, but that’s likely an approach that CBS won’t be taking moving forward, thanks to previously failed experiments like the Masters tournament or the final weekend of NCAA basketball this year. “All the networks looked really seriously at 3-D…it looked brilliant for about 15 minutes,” said McManus. “What we found out was, it’s really not a very good way to watch a sporting event, with the camera moving back and forth quickly. The reception that we got was very lukewarm. ESPN made the decision not to pursue it. We made the decision…not to pursue it. I don’t think you’ll see anybody in the near future or perhaps the distant future really pursuing 3-D coverage.”

But, good news: McManus did pencil something in to the “What You Will See” category. “What we’re all pursuing now is 4K, which is super high-definition. The camera… suspended over the field will indeed be a 4K camera, for the first time ever.”

WHAT YOU MIGHT (OR MIGHT NOT) SEE (AND HEAR): The Redskins

During the off-season, there’s been plenty of vocal debate about whether or not the NFL should continue using the offensive name “Washington Redskins” on air. Earlier in CBS’s TCA tour day, Nina Tassler said she had no answer to the question of whether the network will try to avoid the name, and it seems that that’s the permeating attitude across the board when a reporter asked McManus to clarify statements that had been attributed to him regarding announcers not being forced to use the term Redskins.

“I did say that recently, and it’s true we don’t tell our announcers what to say about any topic on television,” said McManus. “That is true about team names also… The season is two months away—we haven’t made any specific plans with respect to the name. It’s an important topic and it’s a very sensitive topic to a lot of people … We’re looking at it but right now we don’t have any change in our plan, not telling our announcers what to say or not to say.”

“We don’t dictate to our broadcast partners how they cover the game,” Goodell concurred.

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