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Tuesday night football delivers for NBC and may give NFL something to think about

December 29, 2010 |  2:59 pm

VIKES-EAGLES

Could Tuesday become the new Monday?

Thanks to a blizzard, the National Football League got a look at how a game would do on Tuesday night, and the numbers were pretty impressive. Almost 24 million people tuned in to NBC and saw the Minnesota Vikings upset the Philadelphia Eagles. That's the biggest audience any network has gotten on a Tuesday this season.

The game, which was originally scheduled for Sunday night, was moved because of the snowstorm that struck the East Coast.

While the numbers were huge, keep in mind that the competition was pretty light. CBS had its "Kennedy Center Honors" special and just about everyone else was in rerun mode, as is usually the case during the week between Christmas and New Years.

So why talk about this at all? Because if the NFL gets its wish and expands the regular season to 18 games, it will likely create a new TV package, and with that could come a new night of games. After all, what's the point of making a season longer if you can't extract more TV dollars?

Although NFL players are generally against expanding the season for the obvious health reasons and the current TV rights holders are probably in no rush to see their bill for football go up, the league is pretty determined to push this through. It's not a matter of if, but when.

The obvious scenario for the NFL is to expand its Thursday package, which is carried by its own NFL Network, from half a season to all season.

But that's taking money from one of its pockets and putting it in another. While more games might add value to the NFL Network, a new rights-holder is new money.

As for bringing a new night into the mix, the NFL wants to show the dominance of its product, and one way to do that is to be on as many nights as possible. Saturday seems obvious, but there is a conflict with college football, even though it's likely both could survive on that day. 

There is a downside, though. By adding games and expanding to another night, the league risks over-saturating the market with games and diluting its strength. It's always better to have more demand than supply.

-- Joe Flint

 Photo: Vikings quarterback Joe Webb on the move. Credit: Tim Shaffer / Reuters

 

 

 

 

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