Flexing possibility suggests NFL has big plans for Monday Night Football

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We’ve addressed in a couple of items that news that the NFL is pondering the possibility of adding a flex option to Monday Night Football. Regardless of whether the league can make it work logistically, there’s an important message that screams out from the Sports Business Journal report.

The NFL wouldn’t be toying with the possibility of swapping out late-season MNF games made irrelevant by injuries or poor team performances if the NFL wasn’t serious about taking Monday Night Football back to a three-letter network.

In 2006, Monday Night Football didn’t move from ABC to ESPN. It moved from ABC to NBC, with Sunday Night Football becoming the new Monday Night Football — and with the cable-only Monday Night Football becoming what Sunday Night Football had been on ESPN.

Cable packages are driven not by the quality of the games but by the fees that can be justified for the network that carries them. Also, it’s not as important to max out the audience, because the fact that the games aren’t televised on a traditional broadcast network means that the audiences will necessarily be smaller.

Pondering a flex option for Monday Night Football suggests that the league wants to have a way to pump up the quality of late-season games and, in turn, late-season ratings. While this could mean something like an ESPN/ABC simulcast for the package that expires a year before all other TV deals, the bigger takeaway is that the NFL is now considering dominating not one (Sunday) or two (Sunday and Thursday) but three nights per week via mega-audience games on three-letter networks, which despite the dramatic changes to the landscape of American television can still bring together a much bigger audience than any cable network can finagle.

22 responses to “Flexing possibility suggests NFL has big plans for Monday Night Football

  1. Flexing Monday night games would really suck for ticketholders. Traveling to games that get changed would require a change in flights, hotels, and taking time off from work all within small timeframe… nfl is chasing more fans away.🤬🤬

  2. The move of MNF to ESPN was made under the assumption that ESPN would continue to be a money-printing machine. Now that ESPN has fallen from grace, it certainly makes sense for MNF to either slide back to sister network ABC, or perhaps find its way to CBS, Fox, or NBC.

  3. The only change to MNF that would excite me and even entice me to watch again, would be a promise of no in-play advertising and being promised that I’ll never miss another kick off because they’d rather show a Cadillac commercial. MNF is beyond trash now. Seriously, the moment a player sits down on the field on the field to get injury treatment, they immediately cut to commercial. I feel as though I’m watching a 3 hour program about advertisements with small breaks for football.

  4. They need to get off ESPN as cable numbers continue to shrink. But MNF’s best days are decades behind it. They killed that goose a LONG time ago by putting games on all sorts of other “special” days until Monday became just another day with a football game.

  5. Every team plays one MNF game, like TNF. Stop treating small-market teams like ugly stepchildren, give them and their players a chance to grow their following

  6. Dating myself but I sure miss the old days when MNF was The BOSS! Howard, Dandy Don, Frank……..it was must see tv and it always delivered no matter who you rooted for. Dem was the days.

  7. Can a team slated to play TNF in Week 10 get flexed to MNF in Week 9? If so, what team or player would ever be onboard when scenarios like that can happen.

  8. If this happens, watch for the league to start “randomly” scheduling teams that are expected to perform poorly later in the year for MNF. That way they then have the excuse to pull the plug. In a way I like it because some of the primetime games have been garbage. On the other hand it shafts the fans of rebuilding teams etc.

  9. mmmpierogi says:
    February 11, 2020 at 6:39 pm
    Can a team slated to play TNF in Week 10 get flexed to MNF in Week 9? If so, what team or player would ever be onboard when scenarios like that can happen.

    ——

    Teams play the Sunday before their Thursday game. So flexing their Thursday week 10 game to Monday week 9 would mean they play on back to back days, which just isn’t logical

  10. Sports Business Journal writes that the NFL is pondering the possibility of adding a flex option to Monday Night Football. – Booger

  11. hbudgess says: “Flexing Monday night games would really suck for ticketholders. Traveling to games that get changed would require a change in flights, hotels, and taking time off from work all within small timeframe… nfl is chasing more fans away.”
    ———————-

    Sorry, but you’re not looking at the BIG PICTURE.

    How many in-attendance fans would this really impact? Say the last 5 weeks are flexed affecting maybe 25,000 traveling fans = 125,000 total. The point of flexing is to generate more viewership for still-contending teams.

    Instead of 10m viewers watching two out-of-playoff teams, the network could get 15-18m viewers for two contending teams every week. That’s a boost of 25 million viewers as opposed to the 125,000 in-attendance fans that were harshly impacted by the flex…

    Pretty sure no one is chasing those 25 million additional viewers away.

  12. The very first thing that needs to be done to fix MNF is to replace the announcers, particularly Booger McFarland. He is terrible. He never stops talking, he drove Jason Witten right out of the booth and back to the Cowboys and blathers incessantly about useless minutia. When I watch MNF, which candidly is not often, I listen to the game on radio. The delay can be a bit annoying, but the announcers are much better.

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