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