The FOX affiliates in Austin and San Antonio have been hearing it from Houston Texans fans over the last 24 hours, after viewers in those two markets were taken away from the final seconds of the Texans’ victory over the Falcons in favor of the start of the Cowboys’ game against the Cardinals.
That decision was made by FOX at the network level, and FOX says it was made for a simple reason: More people watch the Cowboys than the Texans in those two markets.
“Based on general interest in the Texans and Cowboys in both markets we stand by this decision,” FOX Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio told PFT via e-mail. “The Texans rating in Austin was a 12.1, while the Cowboy rating was a 21.7. In San Antonio, the Texans posted a 14.8, while the Cowboys did a 27.9.”
TV networks base their decisions on ratings, and if the Cowboys draw almost double the ratings of the Texans, a TV network is going to prefer the Cowboys. Still, it would seem that when the Falcons-Texans game went down to the final second, it would have made sense to keep that game on rather than switch to Cowboys-Cardinals.
But D’Ermilio said that San Antonio and Austin were both identified by FOX as “mandatory kickoff markets” for the Cowboys this weekend, and once that decision is made, there’s no flexibility to change the decision, regardless of how the early games play out.
“Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things where the timing of the early game played out in the worst possible way given the established circumstances,” he said.
It is unfortunate, especially for the Texans fans who missed out on seeing their team hang on to beat the Falcons.