The rules for airing NFL games

August 30th, 2012 at 8:25 am by under Sports

With the start of the NFL regular season just around the corner, I thought an explanation of the rules governing broadcasting NFL games might be helpful. Hopefully, this will answer some of your questions about game assignments and the process used.

* The rules are crafted between the NFL and networks which carry the games (FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network). Local affiliates (i.e. WLUK-TV) have little control in the process – and are sometimes at the mercy of the decisions made on-the-fly by the network.

* Because we are the home market station for the Green Bay Packers, we are guaranteed to show all of the Packers games on Fox. This year we have nine of those (so far). If the Packers are the late game, such as in Week 1, if the early game is running long, we will cut away from it to show all of the Packers game – even if that means viewers miss a great ending.

* New this year: To help alleviate that problem, however, the NFL has moved the kickoff time of the primary nationally-televised doubleheader game from 3:15 to 3:25pm. Even though the original schedule released by the league doesn’t reflect it, the Packers games vs. the 49ers (Sept. 9) and Saints (Sept. 30) will start at 3:25pm. As of now, those are the only two Green Bay games affected. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the late games will start at 3:25 – just the games on the network with the doubleheader.

* We air every NFL game we can. If we have a post-game show, it’s not replacing a game that’s available to us. As of now, we have five “Locker Room Live” post-games planned: Oct. 7 (Colts), Nov. 4 (Cardinals),  Nov. 18 (Lions), Dec. 2 (Vikings), and Dec. 16 (Bears).

* Just because FOX has games in both the noon and 3:15/3:25pm slots does not mean we can air two games every week. The networks (generally) alternate doubleheader weeks. Sometimes we can air two, sometimes we can’t. FOX usually has at least one late game because of the west coast home NFC games in Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean we can always air them. It’s not our choice – it’s league & network rules. The upshot here: the on-air promos don’t necessarily translate to games on air for Fox 11.

* FOX assigns us the other games, based on regional interest or national importance. This means we usually get NFC North games. We can request a change, but the network doesn’t have to grant it. In Week 1, for example, we were assigned Washington at New Orleans for the noon game but we requested the be Rams vs. Lions. We will find out next week which game we get. Each week, usually on Wednesday or Thursday, we post which game will have on our Facebook page.

* For non-prime-time games between teams in different conferences, the network of the visiting team gets the rights. That’s why Fox 11 will have the Packers at Colts game, and CBS will have the Jacksonville & Tennessee at Green Bay games.

* Even if it is a Fox doubleheader Sunday, Fox 11 can’t air a game at the same time as a Packers home game. On Oct. 28, for example, we will only air the second game of the doubleheader, and can’t air any of the four early Fox games (ATL @ PHI, WSH @ PIT, CAR @ CHI, SEA @ DET). The same holds that on a CBS doubleheader week, WFRV can’t air a different game during a Packers home game on Fox 11. The only exception to this is Week 17, when both networks get two games because of playoff implications.

* Local fans are guaranteed to see all of the Packers games on local broadcast stations, even if they are on cable (ESPN or the NFL Network). Those networks put the games up for bids to the local stations for the right to air them. I don’t know which local station has these games, but it’s not Fox 11.

* The local stations have no control over the flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the year, the NFL may decide to change games to give NBC a more attractive game in its Sunday night time slot. Games may also move between the early and late doubleheader slots. Thursday and Monday night games do not change.

Given all of that, here is the tentative schedule for the NFL on Fox 11. Remember, the assignments for the non-Packers games very possibly could change based on how the year develops – so please don’t call in December complaining we aren’t airing a specific game just because it’s on this list now. That said, we should have games in all of these timeslots.

If you have any questions, post them below!

Noon – St. Louis at Detroit, or Washington at New Orleans
3:25pm – San Francisco at GREEN BAY

Noon – Minnesota at Indianapolis

Noon – St. Louis at Chicago

Noon – Minnesota at Detroit
3:25pm – New Orleans at GREEN BAY

Noon – GREEN BAY at Indianapolis

Noon – Detroit at Philadelphia, or Dallas at Baltimore
3:25 – NY Giants at San Francisco

Noon – GREEN BAY at St. Louis

3:25pm – New York Giants at Dallas

Noon – Arizona at GREEN BAY

Noon – Detroit at Minnesota
3:25pm – Dallas at Philadephia

Noon – GREEN BAY at Detroit

Thanksgiving, 3:25pm – Washington at Dallas
Sunday – Noon – Minnesota at Chicago
3:25pm – San Francisco at New Orleans

Noon – Minnesota at GREEN BAY

Noon – Chicago at Minnesota
3:25pm – New Orleans at New York Giants

Noon – GREEN BAY at Chicago

3:25pm – Chicago at Arizona

Noon – GREEN BAY vs. Minnesota
3:25pm – to be determined, based on playoff races

22 Responses to “The rules for airing NFL games”

  1. Jon says:

    I understand that the Vikings are division rivals. But I would think more people would be interested in watching cowboys @ Seahawks at 3:05 in week 2. Better teams plus Russell Wilson playing plus Seattle is the packers week 3 opponent.

  2. Brian Kerhin says:

    I will share your comments with the appropriate people here. We may not be able to show a late game, however, as I believe it is a CBS doubleheader Sunday.

    I think our options are:
    TB @ NYG
    AZ @ NE
    NO @ CAR
    MIN @ IND

  3. Joseph Aguirre says:

    Hey Brian, thanks for this post. I am still a little confused though as to whether my Fox 11 will air either the 49er and Packer game or as it says the Ari and Sea game? I live in Riverside CA just east of LA and was hoping to have the 49er game be broadcast. However when I look up the game on my guide it says that the game to be shown is Ari and Sea. Based on your comments above I feel better about there being a chance to view the game I want to see but I am writing you just for some clarification.

    1. Jon says:

      Joe. Not sure what reliable site wluk is using but I use to get info on what cities get what games. The site pretty much spot on.

      1. Brian Kerhin says:

        That’s we consult, too!

  4. Brian Kerhin says:

    Joseph -

    This is the Fox 11 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

    According to a reliable website we use, it appears you will get the Packers/49ers game this week, but I suggest calling your local affiliate for more specific information.

  5. Albert says:

    Hi Brian,

    I live in the Los Angeles area are you televising Rams vs Lions Game.

    I’m a huge Rams Fan just asking.

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      I work at Fox 11 in Green Bay, Wisconsin – and we are airing Rams-Lions. According, the Fox 11 in Los Angeles is airing the Saints-Redskins game in the early slot. Contact for specific information.

  6. Oliviasdad123 says:

    So how late in the week can the NFL decide to switch a game from 12pm to the 3:25pm slot?

    1. Oliviasdad123 says:

      12pm Packers/BEARS, I am in….3:25pm and I’m screwed…

  7. Steven says:

    The game i watched today was pulled due to being one sided. i do not understand why?

    did the following happen: 1. Did CBS/Fox’s rule of if the game is one sided if either the host team or the visitor is ahead by 18 points or more come into effect? (game involved was Redskins VS Eagles in Philadelphia)

    2. Did WCCB (my fox in my area) have orders to pull the game due to Philadelphia being ahead 24-0?

    3. Did Scenario 1 or 2 occur, or is this simply a case of my area fox being given network orders to pull games regardless of who is ahead or not?

  8. Brian Kerhin says:

    Steven – Any switching is done by the network, not by the local affiliate. I am not familiar with the particulars of the game, but if one team was ahead 24-0, I believe that meets the criteria to switch to a different game.

  9. Mike Parker says:

    My question is, why is there only one 10am and 1 1pm game? There always used to be two games at each time, one on each network. I realize it’s been a while since things have been this way, just wondering what changed and why.
    thanks for the answer.

  10. Brian Kerhin says:

    Mike – Sorry, I don’t remember both networks having two games afternoon each – at least not in an NFL market. The only time that happens that I know of is week 17.

  11. jordan says:

    I live in baton rouge louisiana. Will fox show all the saints games?

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      Here is a link to a schedule which shows which network has the game:

  12. Mel Wilmer says:

    FOX- why are you not showing the Bears game??? I don’t care about this Carolina/Cincinnati game when I live in the Midwest. Fox played the Packers for the early game, so why did you switch to this game at the very end? If you advertise that Chicago is your late game, show the dang game. Sitting here at 4pm waiting to see the Chicago Bears game that started at 3:25. Ridiculous.

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      On Oct. 12, I believe it was a CBS doubleheader Sunday. Fox 11 in Green Bay only could air one game. As I note in the blog, Fox often has late games, but that doesn’t mean this station can air them all.

  13. steve trent says:

    I live in West Virginia. No redskin games in almosr 2monthjs thanks alot fox. I get the name controversy, I get we suck. Is it really to much to expect to get a few games. How is this fair . Could someone please explain why fox has aired no redskin games in my area. Please

    1. steve trent says:

      A little dramatic I guess, sorry! But I would really appreciate any feedback on the subject. Why does no redskin game air in my zone this year.

    2. Brian Kerhin says:

      This is the Fox affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin, so I am not sure how to answer your question. You don’t say what market you are in. This week, much of the country got Cleveland/Indy, as it was deemed a ‘better’ game. I would let your local station know you want to see the Redskins. If you didn’t Washington this week, it appears you are slated to get CLE/CIN this week. Affiliates usually have until Tuesday to request a different game, so call them.

  14. steve trent says:


Leave a Reply