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


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





Comments () | Archives (10)

Could these numbers be caused by the fact that on every other channel there were reruns? In the normal atmosphere of Tuesday nights, it won't do as well.


Yes, as I noted, the competition was light because of all the reruns. Still, the NFL is a force. Personally, I hope they keep the 16-game schedule and don't add another TV package.


Joe Flint

The season is too long already. More games = more injuries. No thanks.

I've long wondered why the NFL has not expanded to every night of the week excepting Friday (high school football) and Saturday (college football). I can see no moral or practical problem to doing this. A beginning programmer could come up with a schedule so every team would have at least 6 days between games. All games wouldn't be hits but most games would be better than most of what's on now. Go for it.

Unless the NFL Players' Union grows a testicle and stops being the bosses' poodle, there will be an 18-week schedule in 2011.

And there will be one anyway once the bosses figure out how to compensate the players for the 2 extra regular season games the cheapest way possible.

What the NFL should think about is filling the void created every Sunday with games people can't see because they're not being shown in their area.

Why not put an NFL game on EVERY WEEKDAY NIGHT, so the fans will get to see games they ordinarily are shut out of.

Get rid of preseason games. Colleges and high schools don't need them. Neither do the pros. Those four preseason games serve no real function.

We're going to see more and more sports of all kinds on the big networks, because it's the only thing they do that somebody else doesn't do better. I can't remember the last time I watched an actual show on network TV.

It makes so much more sense to play 2 teams on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday coming off their bye instead of playing them as now on their following Sundays, it will make for a whole new football package.

All the NFL schedulers have to do is stop stacking multiple teams on each of the what, 6 or 7 bye weeks? Keep it at 2 at the start, start the byes as now in October, dedicate a single night prior to the usual Thursday, either Tuesday or Wednesday, and stretch the byes out to 10 weeks. At the end of the string, when the weather keeps fans inside, play 4 teams each week over multiple weeknights so all the byes end when they do now, but give the Thanksgiving teams their byes the Sunday before, and return Thanksgiving to 2 games, saving that third one for another week and another weeknight. In the first year of this package, give CBS and Fox the option to broadcast teams in their own conferences, alternating them week after week until November when they both get their own weeknight game.

Can the NFL say Ka-ching? Would a grizzly like to eat Sarah Palin?

Tuesday wouldn't work for either CBS or Fox; CBS has America's #1 rated show in NCIS and Fox has their hit series Glee. But Fox could do Thursday night; Hell's Kitchen should honestly be airing on the Food Network. CBS may as well take Wednesday-how much longer can they milk the Survivor franchise? Give Versus or the CW Tuesday.


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