Each year, near the start of the NFL season, I post this blog about the rules and guidelines used to determine what games air on what network and when. There are some changes, which are addressed throughout. All in all, it can be quite complicated but I try to break it down by the various aspects of the rules. And please post any questions you might have.
* 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.
* The “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show will start at an hour earlier, at 10 a.m. Central, this season.
* 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). Home market status means the local station will air ALL of the game. If the Packers are the late game, such as in Week 4, if the early game is running long, the network will cut away from it to show all of the Packers game – even if that means viewers miss a great ending.
* Starting a few years ago, 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. We only broadcast a local post-game show when there is no late game available for us to show. When we can show a late game, we will not have a Packers post-game show. As of now, we have three “Locker Room Live” post-games planned: Week 1 after the Chicago game, Week 9 after the Carolina game, and Week 10 after the Detroit game.
* Just because FOX has games in both the noon and 3:05/3:25pm 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 national on-air promos don’t necessarily translate to games on air in Northeast Wisconsin for Fox 11.
* FOX assigns us the other games, based on regional interest or national importance. This means we usually get NFC North games. (Looks like lots of the Lions this year.) We can request a change, but the network doesn’t have to grant it. Each week, usually on Wednesday or Thursday, we post which game will have on our Facebook page. The announcement will also be in our ticker on the bottom of the screen during FOX 11 News.
* For non-prime-time games between teams in different conferences, the network of the visiting team gets the rights – in most cases. That’s why Fox 11 will have the Packers at Oakland game, and CBS will have the San Diego at Green Bay game.
* Starting last year, it is easier to shift games between Fox & CBS on Sundays, regardless of conference affliation. This tool may be used to even out the number of games aired on each network, or to get a high-interest more distribution – even if it’s on the ‘wrong’ network. This is called a “cross flex.” This rule is why the game between two NFC teams – Packers vs. Rams – will be on CBS in Week 5. Other games could be changed during the season.
* Even if it is a Fox doubleheader Sunday, Fox 11 can’t air a game at the same time as a Packers home game. So, while Week 5 may be a Fox doubleheader Sunday, the NFL prohibits us from showing a noon game opposite the Packers game on CBS. 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. (So, WFRV can’t air several noon games). 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 who has the rights to the Week 3 game against Kansas City, for example, but it’s not Fox 11.
* The local stations have no control over the flexible scheduling. For the last 12 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.
* Specifically, NFL on FOX games scheduled in Weeks 6-10 are part of the NFL’s flexible schedule plan. During this period, flexible schedule can be used in no more than two weeks by shifting a Sunday afternoon game into prime time and moving the Sunday night game to an afternoon start time.
* Additionally, NFL on FOX games scheduled in Weeks 11 – 17 are part of the NFL’s flexible schedule plan. After consultation with FOX Sports, the NFL will determine start times on these dates, with a game or games possibly moving to the late afternoon broadcast window.
* For the second consecutive year, we will have an early Sunday game, due to a contest in London. In Week 8, the day starts with Detroit vs. Kansas City at 8:30 a.m., then Minnesota vs. Chicago at noon, and Seattle vs. Dallas at 3:25 p.m.
* WLUK-TV has no control who the announcers are. You can call the Fox Sports broadcast comment line at 310-369-9111 to offer the network your views.
* 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. None of the Packers preseason games are on national television this year. All air on a statewide network, including WGBA-TV locally.
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.
Noon – Green Bay at Chicago
Noon – Detroit at Minnesota
3:25 p.m. – Dallas at Philadelphia
Noon – Atlanta at Dallas
Noon – Philadelphia at Washington
3:25 p.m. – Green Bay at San Francisco
3:05 p.m. – Arizona at Detroit
Noon – Chicago at Detroit
Noon – Minnesota at Detroit
3:25 p.m. – Dallas at N.Y. Giants
8:30 a.m. – Detroit vs. Kansas City (London)
Noon – Minnesota at Chicago
3:25 p.m. – Seattle at Dallas
Noon – Green Bay at Carolina
Noon – Detroit at Green Bay
Noon – Green Bay at Minnesota
3:25 p.m. – San Francisco at Seattle
Week 12 – Thanksgiving
11:30 a.m. – Philadelphia at Detroit
Noon – Minnesota at Atlanta
Noon – San Francisco at Chicago
3:25 p.m. – Philadelphia at New England
Noon- Detroit at St. Louis
3:25 p.m. – Dallas at Green Bay
3:05 p.m. – Green Bay at Oakland
Noon – to be determined
3:25 p.m. – Green Bay at Arizona
Noon – Minnesota at Green Bay
3:25 p.m. – to be determined