NFL on TV rules

August 5th, 2013 at 11:23 am by under Sports

With the start of the NFL season upon us, 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 ten 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.

* Starting last season, to help alleviate that problem, the NFL moved the kickoff time of the primary nationally-televised doubleheader game from 3:15 to 3:25pm.

* 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: Sept. 15 (Redskins), Sept. 22 (Cincinnati), Oct. 6 (Detroit), Nov. 10 (Philadelphia), and Nov. 28 (Detroit).

* Just because FOX has games in both the noon and 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 has at least one late game each week 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 will likely show Minnesota vs. Detroit. Because it is two divisional teams, that’s unlikely to change. 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 Cincinnati & Baltimore games, and CBS will have the Cleveland & Pittsburgh 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. This year, we do not “lose” the ability to air any games because of this rule. However, the same rule applies 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 the Nov. 4 game vs. Chicago, 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.

* While there are few preseason games on network television, the rights to the majority of preseason games are sold by the teams to stations of their choosing. The rules described above generally don’t apply to the preseason.

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!

Friday, Aug. 16
7pm: Tampa Bay vs. New England

Sunday, Aug. 18
6pm: Indianapolis at New York Giants

Sunday, Aug. 25
3pm: New Orleans at Houston

Regular Season
Week 1 – Sept. 8
Noon: Minnesota at Detroit
3:25pm: Green Bay at San Francisco

Week 2  – Sept. 15
Noon: Washington at Green Bay

Week 3  – Sept. 22
Noon: Green Bay at Cincinnati

Week 4 – Sept. 29
Noon: Chicago at Detroit
3:25pm: Philadelphia at Denver

Week 5 – Oct. 6
Noon: Detroit at Green Bay

Week 6 – Oct. 13
Noon: Green Bay at Baltimore
3:25pm: New Orleans at New England

Week 7 – Oct. 20
Noon: Chicago at Washington

Week 8 – Oct. 27
Noon: Dallas at Detroit
3:25pm:  Washington at Denver

Week 9 – Nov. 3
Noon: Minnesota at Dallas

Week 10 – Nov. 10
Noon: Philadelphia at Green Bay

Week 11 – Nov. 17
Noon: Detroit at Pittsburgh
3:25pm: Minnesota at Seattle

Week 12 – Nov. 24
Noon: Minnesota at Green Bay
3:25pm: Dallas at New York Giants

Week 13
Thursday, Nov. 28
11:30am: Green Bay at Detroit
Sunday, Dec. 1
Noon: Chicago at Minnesota

Week 14 – Sunday, Dec. 8
Noon: Minnesota at Baltimore
3:25pm – Seattle at San Francisco

Week 15 – Sunday, Dec. 15
Noon: Chicago at Cleveland
3:25pm: Green Bay at Dallas

Week 16 – Sunday, Dec. 22
Noon: Chicago at Philadelphia

Week 17 – Sunday, Dec. 29
Noon: Green Bay at Chicago
3:25pm: To be determined

19 Responses to “NFL on TV rules”

  1. Joni says:

    Annoyed!! I live in orlando and the viewing is always jaguars and/or bucks! Dolphin fans get screwed in Orlando!! Why can’t they broadcast all three (3) florida teams??? Not a fan of the rules – nor us it fair!

  2. Brian Kerhin says:

    Orlando is designated as a secondary market for the Jaguars:

  3. Paul says:

    Why did is miss the 1st quarter of the the scheduled Cowboy vs Giants game when FOX decided instead to make me watch extended coverage of the Green Bay vs Minn OT tie. The scheduled game here in the Los Angeles market was done. Panthers.

  4. Brian Kerhin says:

    Paul – I think you answered your own question. Fox decided that the overtime was more interesting than the first quarter of Dallas/New York.

    Also, it could be that they hoped GB/MIN got done before the next game, so they switched you to it. But once they did so, they figured people would want to see the ending.

  5. Ruby Franks says:

    If this is true, why are the Vikings on every single Sunday during the season. If the Packers are playing a noon game, their game is never televised. Occasionally another nfl game will be aired on another channel but never the Packers. I am sick of it. I may live near Minnesota but I am far from being a Vikings fan. I wanna see more Green Bay Packers!!!!

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      Ruby – You don’t say where you live or which Fox affiliate you are watching. These are the rules as they apply in Green Bay.

  6. Tim says:

    No offense but this is a horrible explanation. Not because it only applies to just one local market but it leaves out so many important parts – why show a game with zero importance and with a lower fan base in the area over another that is of major importance and a higher fan base? For instance, in the Oregon/Washington area, today the Seattle game is on fox at 1 which makes sense. But the second game at 1 on cbs is Denver/Oakland – why?????? According to the NFL explanation the 49er game should be on due to its importance to the league standings/playoff matchups, and you cant tell me that there are more Denver/Oakland fans than 49er/Cardinal fans in the NW????

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      First, it is intended for the audience of Fox 11 in Green Bay. We are a local station.

      As for the late game you are seeing: the Seahawks and 49ers games are both Fox games. The CBS affiliate has to show an AFC game.

  7. Brent Burnett says:

    You have showed the Packers/Panthers game scheduled ALL WEEK LONG!!!! Why the hell did the game suddenly change to this stupid Seahwaks game????? But STILL SHOW THE PACKERS PLAYING???? This is BULLSHIT!!!!!!

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      Thanks for writing. WLUK showed the entire Packers game. You don’t say where you are writing from, but only the home markets are guaranteed the entire game. Both Fox and CBS routinely switch away from blowouts.

  8. Jack barnette says:

    The FOX channel WFXB AND WTBT switched FROM the Packers in the last minutes to switch to a more competitive game–the Cardinals and the Lions. I am a Packer fan and resent this. The Packers were scheduled to be on and should have been on until the end of the game. Fans deserved to see a great win. Besides, someone could have been hurt or miracles could have happened.

    This is as bad as the Heidi issue years ago.

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      Only the local markets are guaranteed to get the entire game. Research shows the ratings are higher for competitive games – especially in markets where there is not a ‘local’ team. That is why both Fox and CBS switch away from blowouts.

  9. Egg says:

    Did you cut away from the last part of the Packer game yesterday ?
    If so, that is JUST WRONG !!!
    Shame on you fox 11
    You do suck !!!

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      We did not switch away from the Packers game. It was done early, so viewers got bonus coverage of other games. We showed the Packers in its entirety.

  10. Chris gibson says:

    So I was wondering who and how “local” is defined. I live in the U.P. and they claim to get to decide between packers and lions games. We live in Michigan but air the Green Bay Packers. They claimed today that they (local TV 6 Fox U.P.) had to decide whether to air the packers or the Lions, and they chose the Packers. They then aired Golf. They claimed it was because CBS had the double header. Is this true that they are NOT allowed to air a home state team since they aired the Packers? If so do you know how to get a hold of the right person at Fox to give them a petition that shows more people here are interested in their home state team. Plus we get the packers on more than one station, so why would Fox want to compete with ithers airing the packers while the Lions don’t even get put on TV, and instead they air golf. So they might in a perfect world get half of the viewers watching the packer game and nobody watching the Lions (or that station because they aired golf). When even the packer fans would watch the Lions being a division game, and the opener besides. It seems to me that somebody is messing up. So again I ask to define local, because home state vs non home state seems more local even if you are closer to the other.

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      Thanks for writing.

      Marquette is not a “home market” team for either then Packers or Lions. Therefore, it is free to choose whichever game it wants. That said, the networks and league would likely prefer it choose the early game because it was a CBS doubleheader Sunday.

      Because it was a CBS doubleheader, WLUC could only show one game. It could not have shown both the Packers and Lions games under any circumstances.

      It’s really not an issue for the Fox Network. It is a matter of convincing your local affiliate which game it should air. The ‘home state’ part of it really isn’t part of the equation, from what I know.

      I’m not sure how or why you would get the Packers on more than one station. I don’t know where you live, so I can’t immediately say. You likely should only be getting one Fox affiliate.

      1. Chris gibson says:

        Thank you, most of the U.P. can get Green bay with bunny ears, so our local channels are Green Bay. We used to get both fox detroit and fox green bay for years. only recently they have made the station fox U.P. when they did that they were no longer allowed to give us those stations. I don’t know if I have it on more than one channel here in marquette, but I know we got the packers on more than one station in caspian. There we have fox out of Rhinlander and fox U.P.and both aired the packers. If Fox U.P. aired the Lions they would be able to get both. Because we border Wisconsin Greenbay comes up in our local channels. Only for basic cable,or with an antenna.

  11. John S says:

    Hi, Brian. Very good article, hard to find anywhere where these crazy TV rules are explained in such detail.

    Last week the Rams played at Green Bay but the game was on CBS. Do you know why that is? Shouldn’t FOX have shown the game because it was a matchup of two NFC teams?

    1. Brian Kerhin says:

      It was a “cross flex.” It was used to even out the number of early games between Fox and CBS. We would have certainly preferred the game appeared on our air, but that happens.

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