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!

Preseason
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

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