The question of whether the NFL will “enhance” the regular season eventually will yield to the question of how the league will cram two more weekends of football into a schedule that currently stretches from three days after Labor Day until early February.
We address the logistics generally in our upcoming PFT Video Mailbag, which should be posted just in time for our friends in the Eastern time zone to “enhance” their Friday lunch breaks by a couple of minutes.
Michael Hiestand of USA Today addresses a specific logistical reality. In 2014, when New York/New Jersey hosts the first open-air, cold-weather Super Bowl, “the Game” likely will conflict with the Winter Olympic Games.
Under the current formula, Super Bowl XLVIII would be played on February 2, 2014. And the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are set to begin on February 7. As a result, an adjustment to the league’s calendar that pushes the Super Bowl even one week deeper would create a direct conflict between sport’s biggest single-day event and its premier February fortnight.
As a practical matter, the mere possibility of a head-to-head ratings battle likely takes FOX, which will televise Super Bowl XLVIII, out of the mix for the rights to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. And it likely would make the U.S. broadcast rights for the 2014 Games less appealing, and in turn less valuable.
Meanwhile, having the rights would create some significant programming challenges. How could ABC/ESPN or NBC/Comcast provide appropriate saturation coverage to the New York Super Bowl while also justifying the expenditure on the Olympics by pumping out images of the various events that will be occurring on the day that the Super Bowl is played?
The smart move for the folks who run the Olympics could be to figure out the league’s plans post-haste and then adjust the dates of the Winter Games, if that’s even possible. There’s a good chance that it’s already too late to call an Olympic audible.
It also could make sense for the NFL to find a way to keep Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2, in deference to an international community whose sports fans the league is hoping to eventually woo.