By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The CBS television network won a bidding war to air eight Thursday night National Football League games during the 2014 season, giving CBS one of TV's most highly prized programs on the night generally most coveted by advertisers.
CBS and the NFL announced the deal on Wednesday.
CBS, which competed against the NBC and Fox networks, ESPN and Turner Broadcasting System, had been considered a long shot at the outset of the bidding because of its strong Thursday night lineup, which includes TV's leading comedy "The Big Bang Theory," and ratings mainstay "Two and A Half Men."
The games will be telecast early in the coming season and will be aired simultaneously on the league-owned NFL Network.
The bidding was less than $300 million for the single-season contract, which includes a one-year option at the NFL's choice, according to a person with knowledge of the bids. Prices were lower than they might have been for such a prized property because of the simultaneous telecast on the NFL Network.
CBS, a unit of CBS Corp, already broadcasts NFL games on Sunday afternoon.
Bids were also submitted by NBC, owned by Comcast Corp ; Fox ; ESPN, owned by Walt Disney Co ; and TBS, owned by Time Warner, according to the person with knowledge of the bids.
Shares of CBS were up 0.8 percent at $58.34 in afternoon trading.