Amid talk that college football will fill the looming void on Sunday afternoons, Sunday nights, and Monday nights, we recently noticed some chatter on Twitter (I can’t recall from whom) that the NFL could retaliate in the future by playing games on Saturdays.
To the extent that it’s a fairly obvious reaction to the notion of college football encroaching on the NFL’s turf, we decided it was worth a quick post. Especially since no one is riding a bull tonight.
The NFL’s antitrust exemption for broadcast purposes hinges on pro football games not being televised on Friday nights, Saturdays, or Saturday nights from early September through early December. It was part of the quid pro quo for the NFL’s ability to jointly market TV rights, forcing networks to buy the ability to televise the bad teams’ games along with the good teams’ games.
So the NFL can’t respond in kind. Of course, that doesn’t stop the NFL from retaliating against any network that televises college football games when NFL games would have been played. If Playmakers provided the league office under Paul Tagliabue with an incentive to not-so-subtly threaten ESPN’s role as a broadcast partner, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the league to hold a grudge if alternative programming during the lockout includes alternative football.