NFL should be able to use flexible scheduling at any time

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As the league looks for ways to make the presentation of its games more compelling on TV, the league needs to further embrace ways to present more compelling games.

Currently, flexible schedule isn’t available until Week Five, and even then it can be used only twice before Week 10. Ideally, the league would have the ability to slide games from window to window whenever it wants.

It would be a useful tool for Week Three. Currently, the late-afternoon games set for the first CBS doubleheader of the year consist of Bengals-Packers and Chiefs-Chargers. But the better games for the afternoon window happen in FOX regional windows, at 1:00 p.m. ET (2-0 Falcons at 2-0 Lions) and 4:05 p.m. ET (1-1 Seahawks at 1-1 Titans). Yes, the latter two games will be broadcast by FOX and, sure, the networks need certainty as to where and when they’ll be broadcasting games. But if the goal is to maximize interest and in turn audience, the league needs to have the ability to flip the switch as its discretion to move games around in order to achieve the biggest bang.

Even if the FOX games couldn’t have been moved to the CBS late-afternoon window, an early game on CBS — 1-1 Texans at 1-1 Patriots — would be more compelling at 4:25 p.m. ET than either of the current options. Reasonable minds may differ on that; regardless, the league needs to have the ability and the willingness to adjust the schedule whenever it wants in order to put the best games in the best spots on the weekly broadcasting calendar.

53 responses to “NFL should be able to use flexible scheduling at any time

  1. The league needs to ban all west coast teams playing at 10 am their time period. It’s an absolute joke that in a 16 game season…a team like Arizona is playing almost half their games at 10 am!

  2. Yeah, then when I buy tickets to see a 1 pm away game that is flexed to a night game I’m screwed because I have a 4 hour drive and work on Monday.
    I’m in!

  3. If the NFL is trying to make the stadium experience better so fans will come to the games and spend more money, flex scheduling would be a large problem.

  4. Texans-Patriots being “compelling” is a matter of opinion. Who is to say a game that doesn’t look good on paper won’t be a good game. Nobody is technically out of contention by week 3.

  5. The NFL and the networks make those decisions based on profit alone. Interesting games have nothing at all to do with it. If there is a late season game between Jax and Cleveland with a win and you’re in/lose and you’re out scenario for both teams and a game between the last place team and a clinching opportunity for DAL/NYG/DEN/PIT/NE, the latter will get the slot because they have the biggest market even though the other game is much more interesting towards the playoffs.

  6. What about the fans who buy tickets and make plans/arrangements around the original time scheduled? Oh yeah, who cares, right?

  7. “an early game on CBS — 1-1 Texans at 1-1 Patriots — would be more compelling at 4:25 p.m. ET”

    Yeah, because the Pats blowing out another garbage team is sooooo compelling.

  8. I’m all in for seeing the best most relevant game. These people are all rich
    that play the game….
    ‘I’m paying you, you should perform at my pleasure”
    And I really don’t have much more sympathy for people that can afford, personal seat licenses,
    season tickets, parking, over priced concessions.
    The rest of us are not quite as lucky, forgive me if don’t cry for you.

  9. I think he is underestimating the chargers offense. San Diego could easily give kc a game on Sunday afternoon, and that’s coming from a chiefs fan. 0-2 means squat when it comes to division games.

  10. jackedupboonie says:
    September 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm
    The league needs to ban all west coast teams playing at 10 am their time period. It’s an absolute joke that in a 16 game season…a team like Arizona is playing almost half their games at 10 am!
    I really do not see the problem. Even if their ‘body clocks’ are at 10 AM, that is a reasonable game time. It is not like they are playing at 4AM. To me that is a lame excuse for a couple games.

  11. What I can’t stand is the a team playing SNF and then playing the next MNF game. Giants just did this and the Skins are doing this next week. I have no problem with seeing these teams but maybe not back to back.

  12. The NFL will figure it out. They just set a new all time record for revenue last year. They’re way ahead of the game. They’ll get as much of our money as they want. I have no problem with that. I’m a willing participant. Rumors of the NFL’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Mostly by Patriots’ fans. Lol.

  13. A much better idea would be allowing other telecommunications companies other than DirecTV alone sell a “Sunday Ticket” package, so that fans could literally choose to watch any game they want.

    How many people would pay their cable providers, or even go back to cable, if it meant Sunday Ticket or some variant thereof were available?

    This wouldn’t screw up the stadium-attending fans’ plans, as they’d see the game they were scheduled to see, and it would guarantee more eyeballs on screens if we got a chance to watch the teams we actually follow.

    The byzantine regional scheduling nonsense that Big Shield puts out these days means “more probable than not”, most NFL fans will have dregs of games to ‘choose’ from, if they have any choice at all.

    Make the product more fan friendly, and I guarantee you you get more fans to consume it.

  14. Disagree.

    I’ve booked travel specifically around the start times of my teams games. I doubt I’m alone there. I don’t care how popular a couple winning teams are to the ratings. If the NFL started making me miss my teams games for ratings… that’s about the only thing they could do to hurt my interest in the league.

  15. How can you say Texans v Patriots is more compelling than Chiefs v Chargers…The Chargers are 2 flukey FG kicks away from having every team in that division 2-0 to start the year. That should be one of the best games.

  16. It’s way too early in the season to even be discussing this. Even the 0-2 Bengals are still very much capable of producing a compelling game. So long as teams are still alive for the playoffs, they are notable. The flex schedule option was designed to avoid seeing non-playoff teams in prime TV slots. In Week 3, we still don’t know which teams are good, and which are bad. It’s just too soon to make those conclusions.

  17. Bad idea, you will further alienate the fans who drive 3-4 hours to come to the game. You know the ones your marketing department has worked for years to attract so that your stadium doesn’t look like a Rams home game.

  18. Two things I want changed in the NFL schedule:

    1. Instead of a Thursday night game just make every Monday a double header like week 1.

    2. Make a rivalry week every season. This would be a game between AFC vs NFC teams that geographically are close to each other. There are 2 games on every team’s schedule that aren’t divisional or conference foes. Just use one of those for this annual game.

  19. Flex scheduling makes it difficult for people with jobs. Some of us plan from the schedule release which days need to be taken off because requests have to be given in advance. Then the game is moved…and now, instead of enjoying the stadium experience as a season ticket holder, an attempt has to be made to sell that ticket. Frustrating to say the least.

  20. I think the bulk of viewers are homers and fantasy folks. Why would the league bend over backwards for the ever-decreasing demographic that is a fan of the sport and actually wants to see all the best games?

  21. The potential to upend attendee’s plans is very troublesome to me. Flexing screws the lowly fan.

    We already pay a lot of money to watch millionaire brats fly into town on chartered planes, stay in lux accommodations and protest injustice during the national anthem in front of disabled vets.

    This is what the NFL has become and we’re about to see the boss get rehired.

  22. I’m a Titans fan in Chattanooga Tennessee, which is a secondary market for both the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons broadcasts.

    Unfortunately, under current NFL broadcast rules…if the Titans are hosting an NFC opponent when the Falcons are playing (like this week), I’m out of luck; the local CBS affiliate that normally broadcasts Titans games can’t show the game because it’s designated as a FOX broadcast….and the local FOX affiliate is obligated to show the Falcons, so no local stations are allowed to carry the Titans game.

    It’s a double-whammy this weekend: Falcons@Lions is the early game, while the Seahawks/Titans game is the late game….so there’s no conflict, right? Wrong. FOX doesn’t have the double-header this week… after the Falcons game is over and the Seahawks@Titans game starts in Nashville, Tennessee’s fourth largest TV market will be getting Bengals@Packers.

    It’s a losing proposition for everyone involved. The local Titans fans are obviously out of luck….and the local TV affiliates that would VERY much prefer to show the hometown favorites are forced to show a game that is guaranteed to attract far fewer local viewers, resulting in much lower ratings.

    All it would take is for the NFL to establish a “right of first refusal” policy that would allow local FOX or CBS affiliates to broadcast local market games designated for the other network if the designated network won’t be showing it locally.

    Stupid broadcasting rules.

  23. The league cares nothing about the fan.moving a game from 1 to 4. Or even worse to a night game ruins the next day for the out of town fan.there were many days I was forced to travel in the middle of the night .The league cares only about tv ratings not the fans!

  24. When I went to Chicago to watch Phins play the game was at 12pm and I had flight coming home at 7pm. If they flexed the game I would of been screwed with flight, hotel and even work the next day. Can you have some consideration for the fans for once.

  25. dmuehlhausen says:

    September 20, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    How can you say Texans v Patriots is more compelling than Chiefs v Chargers…The Chargers are 2 flukey FG kicks away from having every team in that division 2-0 to start the year. That should be one of the best games.


    Incorrect…Had the Chargers won their first game, against the Broncos, who are in their division….yea.

  26. Seriously?!?! People paid A LOT of money for tickets and then have their schedule disrupted by random change to the timing based on the network. Fans should be treated better for sure…Get the ticket or watch the Redzone if its and issue

  27. No way. That sucks for fans that attend games. I’ve had 2 different games I have attended flexed. One to the night game and one to the afternoon game and it sucked from a planning perspective. When you have to travel to games it really is a huge pain. Flights have to change, hotel, etc.

  28. As for how compelling the Patriots Texans will be, as a Patriots fan I am thinking it could be a tough game based on how that defense played last year in the playoffs, but the betting public sure doesn’t think so. The spread was -13 and went up to -13.5 today.

  29. briang123 says:
    September 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm
    Other than The Price is Right and maybe Jerry Springer, the studio audience does not matter in any TV show, with the NFL being no exception.


    You couldn’t be more wrong. Those are all the people that watch on TV the other 15 weeks they don’t attend a game.

  30. Regarding as
    z0inks commented: “I’m a Titans fan in Chattanooga Tennessee, which is a secondary market for both the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons broadcasts….”

    A simple fix that would certainly help ratings would be to give all markets two games at 1PM & 4PM (EST), one on CBS and one on FOX. Over-the-air viewers are often subjected to lousy late games because of situations like this fan in Tennessee experiences. Here in Buffalo, if the Bills are on CBS at 1, but Fox has the doubleheader that means we get one 4PM game to watch and a very lowly rated game appears opposite the Bills at 1PM on Fox that no on in WNY is watching. And if/when that 4PM game (or any Sunday game) turns into a dud, the networks rarely switch neutral markets to a more compelling game. They wait until the conclusion of your crummy game. Then, let’s say, if it is a FOX doubleheader day and CBS sends you to the conclusion of an exciting 1PM game (maybe in OT), CBS has to pull the plug due to “league broadcast rules” at 4:25 so now fans that got wrapped up the last 20-25 minutes in a game, have to miss the end.

    Not everyone can afford or has access to the RedZone or Sunday Ticket.

    There is no magic bullet to improving ratings, but these seem like really simple fixes to start that would benefit the league and its fans.

  31. Flex Scheduling is the worse thing to do to season ticket holders and fans traveling to out of town games. Tickets are purchased and plans are made based on the schedule set by the league in the spring. The majority of ticket holders have families and lives that need to be taken into consideration in order to attend a football game. Add traveling to an out of state game and the logistics become more difficult. Changing a game for television ratings, is selfish and greedy on the part of the NFL and another way that Roger Goodell and the owners are disrupting the in stadium fan experience and thus undermining the league. This shows and absolute lack of respect for the season ticket holders. Flex Scheduling should never be used.

  32. deuce22222 says:
    September 21, 2017 at 6:57 am
    Get Sunday Ticket. It’s the most flexible scheduling you can get……….
    It’s not as flexible as you think.

    First, DirecTV requires a minimum monthly package before you can even get NFL Sunday Ticket.

    Second, The NFL blacks out the local game being televised. Which means you pay for the right to watch all the games, only to have the local game of which you are likely a fan of, blacked out.

    The NFL needs to allow other avenues other than DirectTV.

  33. It may have already been said, but I think the KC/Chargers game will actually be quite good. LA is a lot better than 0-2 would suggest, and typically play division games well.

    And I hate both teams anyway, so clearly this is an unbiased opinion.

  34. Fans who buy tickets to games, do so with the understanding that the game is going to be played at the specific time that was scheduled at the time of purchase. Moving the game to a different time just for the hell of it can be really unfair if that inconveniences people who have already bought tickets.

  35. maybe the NFL should have been happy with the millions of $$$$ they were making off of the core fans who followed through thick and thin. instead of turning over every rock to find another demographic to make even more. those fans walk away in a heartbeat. enough of having the games on at every hour of every night. stop screwing the ticket paying customers by switching times. the NFL experience is nothing more than holding out you wallet to them. and them asking for more.

  36. Although other match ups may be better games, any opportunity to see Brady play is compelling. His years are numbered and when he’s gone, football won’t be the same.

  37. I have no problem leaving the Week 3 schedule as is. First off, CBS cherishes its few Packers games, and the Bengals have some exciting players even though they’re 0-2. Similarly, the Chargers will put up a fight and their games with the Chiefs typically come down to the wire.

    The problem I see — and it was evident weeks ago — is the Week 4 SNF game between Indianapolis and Seattle. Without Andrew Luck, the game’s a dog, and the NFL surely would have switched games if this were Week 5 (when flex scheduling kicks in). Poor NBC.

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