(In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the dog days of summer. Normally, I would hold off on this until closer to the actual start of the season, but college football is still several weeks away from being useful, if I were to do TV ratings reports I would want to hold off on them until mid-September, and no one’s voting on any of my polls. Basically, there’s nothing to do, but I haven’t had any hits all day, so…)
NBC’s Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.
Last year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. CBS and Fox were able to protect one game every week each but had to leave one week each unprotected and had to submit their protections after only four weeks.
Now, NBC lists the game it “tentatively” schedules for each night, and by all appearances, CBS and Fox can’t protect anything. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.
Here are the rules from the NFL web site:
- Begins Sunday of Week 11
- In effect during Weeks 11-17
- Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
- The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET.
- The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
- No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
- The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
- Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
- The NBC Sunday night time slot in “flex” weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
- Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
- NFL schedules all games.
- Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
Throughout the season, I’m going to make predictions on what the NFL will do each week in the flexible scheduling scheme. Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games:
Week 11 (November 18): Chicago @ Seattle
Week 12 (November 25): Philadelphia @ New England
Week 13 (December 2): Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Week 14 (December 9): Indianapolis @ Baltimore
Week 15 (December 16): Washington @ NY Giants
Week 16 (December 23): Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
Week 17 (December 30): Kansas City @ NY Jets
I will start putting up watches every week starting after Week 3 or 4. The Week 17 spot will double as a playoff watch. I will be paying close attention to what you think; I could extend the playoff watch concept to other pro sports if you do.