For decades, the NFL has tied its Sunday afternoon TV deals to the league’s two conferences. Soon, that could be going away.
Variety reports, via SportsMediaWatch.com, that the league and its network partners already have discussed eliminating the conference affiliations for the Sunday afternoon games.
This would give the NFL maximum flexibility to schedule the best games for the best spots, with an eye toward selecting optimal late-afternoon, nationally-televised games that currently rotate between FOX and CBS.
Subject to periodic cross-flexing, which has emerged in recent years, FOX currently is tied to the NFC, and has been since taking the NFC package from CBS in 1994. CBS later claimed the AFC package from NBC, which exited the NFL broadcast business for several years before securing in 2006 the rights to Sunday Night Football.
The Monday Night Football rights, currently held by ESPN, expire after the 2021 season. All other arrangements — the Sunday afternoon windows, Sunday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football — expire after the 2022 season.