Since 2006, the NFL has had the ability to shift late-season Sunday afternoon games to Sunday night.
On Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the next wave of broadcast contracts, starting in 2014, could entail an earlier flexible scheduling option.
“As we look toward extending our television agreements, there’s an idea that we would have some more flexibility between our partners to allow our games to be put into different time slots, and maybe start flex scheduling earlier in the year,” Goodell told Darren Rovell of CNBC Sports Biz: Game On, via NFL.com.
Though it’s in the league’s best interests to have the ability to, for example, dump the Colts-Saints game from primetime after it became obvious that Peyton Manning wouldn’t play, the move also adds value to the Sunday night package, currently held by NBC. Shifting out a bad game and replacing it with a good game translates to higher ratings, and thus increased revenues.
In turn, an earlier flex option impacts the value of the daytime packages, currently held by FOX and CBS.
The real question is whether flex scheduling ever would extend to Monday night. Given that ESPN already has extended its deal deep into the decade without any type of flex option, if flexible scheduling ever happens on Monday night it won’t be happening any time soon.