The NFL is trying something different with a 2014 game in London: An early kickoff.
The league announced today that the Lions-Falcons game on Sunday, October 26 will kick off at 1:30 p.m. UK time, which is 9:30 a.m. Eastern time. That’s believed to be the earliest kickoff in NFL history. (The other two London games in 2014 will kick off at the customary time of 1 p.m. Eastern.)
FOX will broadcast the game nationally as the lead-in to its normal 1 p.m. Eastern kickoffs. And, given that everything the NFL does draws big TV numbers, FOX can probably expect big numbers for this game, too — not as big as a typical Sunday afternoon game, but huge compared to what TV networks normally draw on Sunday mornings.
And that leads to an interesting question: If the NFL follows through with the talk of eventually moving eight games a year to London, will it have all eight of those games kick off at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, and then sell that package of eight games to a TV network? If so, the NFL may have just found another lucrative revenue stream. As if the league’s billionaire owners need it.