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 several changes this year, which I will address as we go.
* 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). Home market status means the local station will air ALL of the game. If the Packers are the late game, such as in Week 2, if the early game is running long, the network (CBS, in this example) 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. If we have a post-game show, it’s not replacing a game that’s available to us. As of now, we have three “Locker Room Live” post-games planned: at Detroit on Sept. 21, at Minnesota on Nov. 23 and at Tampa on Dec. 21.
* 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. Each week, usually on Wednesday or Thursday, we post which game will have on our Facebook page, and it will be in our news ticker.
* 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 Miami and Buffalo games, and CBS will have the New England and New York Jets at Green Bay games. New this year, however: It is now easier to shift games of national interest between Fox & CBS on Sundays. This tool may be used to even out the number of games aired on each network, or to get a high-interest game in the late timeslot, even if it’s on the ‘wrong’ network. We’re not quite sure how this will play out yet.
* 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. (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 Dec. 8 Atlanta game, but it’s not Fox 11.
* The local stations have no control over the flexible scheduling. For the last 12 weeks of the year – up from seven last 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 5-10 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.
* There is another new wrinkle to the schedule this year: a Sunday morning game. Detroit plays Atlanta in London on Oct. 26. The pregame show starts at 8am, with game coverage at 8:30am. We will have one other game that day.
* 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!
Week 1, Sept. 7
Buffalo at Chicago, noon
San Francisco at Dallas, 3:25pm
Week 2, Sept. 14
Detroit at Carolina, noon
Week 3, Sept. 21
Green Bay at Detroit, noon
Week 4, Sept. 28
Green Bay at Chicago, noon
Philadelphia at San Francisco, 3:25pm
Week 5, Oct. 5
Chicago at Carolina, noon
Week 6, Oct. 12
Green Bay at Miami, noon
Dallas at Seattle, 3:25pm
Week 7, Oct. 19
Carolina at Green Bay, noon
New York at Dallas, 3:25pm
Week 8, Oct. 26
Detroit vs. Atlanta, 8:30am
Chicago at New England, noon
Week 9, Nov. 2
Washington at Minnesota, noon
Week 10, Nov. 9
San Francisco at New Orleans, noon
New Giants at Seattle, 3:25pm
Week 11, Nov. 16
Philadelphia at Green Bay, noon
Detroit at Arizona, 3:25pm
Week 12, Nov. 23
Green Bay at Minnesota
Week 13, Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving)
Philadelphia at Dallas, 3:30pm
Week 13, Nov. 30
New Orleans at Pittsburgh, noon
Week 14, Dec. 7
Tampa Bay at Detroit, noon
Seattle at Philadelphia, 3:25pm
Week 15, Dec. 14
Green Bay at Buffalo, noon
San Francisco at Seattle, 3:25pm
Week 16, Dec. 21
Green Bay at Tampa Bay, noon
Week 17, Dec. 28
Green Bay at Detroit, noon
St. Louis at Seattle, 3:25pm