Fox has taken plenty of flak for the fact that, in various markets, the network switched from the thrilling ending to the Packers-Bengals game to the start of the late-afternoon doubleheader games, Giants-Cowboys or 49ers-Cardinals. The truth is that FOX was simply following league rules.
Fox had no qualms about blaming the switch on the NFL. When Charissa Thompson presented the end of Packers-Bengals to the Giants-Cowboys audience, she mentioned NFL rules as the reason for not seeing it live.
As explained by Rodger Sherman of TheRinger.com, the rule applies not only to the primary markets (New York, Dallas, San Francisco, Phoenix) but also to secondary markets, like Buffalo and Houston.
Several years ago, the NFL delayed the doubleheader window from 4:05 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. ET, for the express purpose of building in extra time so that fans can watch all of the early game before the late games begin. The easiest solution would be to use a split screen. And it usually takes a situation like this to get the NFL to start looking for solutions.
Another possibility would be to briefly delay the kickoff of the late game. In this case, it was just a minute or two. It would have been simple to implement a brief pause in the late-afternoon action.
The bottom line is that the NFL needs to have flexibility and creativity in these situations. Rules developed in the days of three channels and no Internet simply don’t make sense in today’s NFL.