Editor's pick: Originally published Jan. 7.
Fox Sports has emerged as the top rival to CBS (CBS) in the bidding for the broadcast rights to National Football League games on Thursday nights, submitting a "stiff" bid in an effort to keep CBS from extending its two-year agreement for the nation's most popular sport, according to two people with knowledge of the bid.
The NFL is collecting bids from TV and Internet companies for what is believed to be a one-year agreement to broadcast eight of the 16 Thursday night games. The bidding is expected to substantially exceed the estimated $300 million that CBS currently pays for the telecasts, though the size of Fox's bid wasn't immediately clear.
A spokesman for Fox, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox (FOX) would confirm only that the company has responded to the Request for Proposal that the league circulated to potential bidders in mid-December. The league's FRP also allows for the winning bidder to produce the remaining eight games for the league-owned NFL Network.
The NFL outlined a one-year deal with another year at the league's option, and also outlined a separate request for proposals to simulcast the games online. Proposals were sent to CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC and Turner, according to Sports Business Daily , as well as to Alphabet's (GOOG) Google, Yahoo (YHOO) , Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) . A decision is expected by the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.