When there’s a bad game on Monday night, fans complain because there’s no other football on. When there’s a bad game on Sunday afternoon, fans can find another one to watch. That’s the fundamental argument for flexible schedules for Monday Night Football, which the NFL is considering on the next round of TV contracts: It would be better for the fans watching at home.
But it would be worse for the fans buying tickets.
And in some cases it would be significantly worse: Imagine being a fan traveling to out of town games, buying not only flights but hotel rooms to see your favorite team in a road game, only to find out that game has been moved from Sunday afternoon to Monday night, meaning you now either need to cancel your trip altogether or change your flight and re-book your hotel room, likely at significant cost.
For some games, that would affect tens of thousands of fans. Late in the season, fans from cold-weather places like Green Bay and Pittsburgh often travel in droves to destinations like California, Arizona or Florida to cheer on their teams on the road. If the NFL moved, say, a Steelers-Chargers game from Sunday afternoon to Monday night, that would place an enormous burden on a huge number of fans traveling from Pittsburgh.
The reality is, if a network bidding on the next Monday Night Football contract is willing to offer the NFL enough money for flexible scheduling, the NFL is probably going to do it. But it would be a bad deal for the fans in attendance, who increasingly find themselves a lower priority than the fans watching the game from home.