Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, November 19, 2021

flex in flux
So yeah, I watched the Patriots pummel Buffalo 56-10 last night. Most of it, anyway.

And I wondered: Is this sort of game, whose lopsidedness you could see coming a mile away, really in the spirit of what the NFL’s flex-scheduling television formula was supposed to achieve (New England’s march toward an undefeated season notwithstanding)?

Call me crazy, but I thought the intent of flexible broadcasts was to showcase relevant/competitive matchups in primetime, thus avoiding late-season Sunday Night Football yawners between teams with a combined three wins.

Instead, it seems NBC is putting the premium on the probability of a scorefest — one-sided or not. At least that’s how I’m reading the likely flex invocations for the remainder of the season (I’ve removed the referenced team records, since they were two weeks old as of this writing):

- Week 13. NBC has Cincinnati at Pittsburgh. Not bad. Jacksonville at Indianapolis, seems better — but CBS has that protected. Fox put dibs on New York Giants at Chicago. Meaning, NBC might lobby for Fox’s Detroit at Minnesota. The best matchup — Green Bay at Dallas — will air on a Thursday in only about 35 million households on the NFL Network, which wants you to complain to your cable operator if you don’t get it.

- Week 14. CBS wisely protected Pittsburgh at New England, while Fox put a moat around Giants-Eagles. NBC, slated for Colts-Ravens, might have wanted Fox’s Cowboys-Lions — but Dallas, with six primetime games scheduled, is off the board.

- Week 15. NBC has Washington at Giants. Both might be in the playoff hunt. If not, since CBS protected Jaguars-Steelers, NBC might take CBS’ New York Jets at Pats — if the perfect season is still in play.

- Week 16. NBC’s Tampa Bay at San Francisco will likely be dropped from NBC. Best games, not protected: Fox’s Redskins at Vikings and Giants at Bills or CBS’ Miami at New England.

- Week 17. To help NBC get a finale with playoff implications, Fox and CBS can’t protect any games in Week 17. Best bets to be moved to NBC, which now has Kansas City at Jets: Fox’s Lions at Packers or CBS’ Titans at Colts. And only about one-third of U.S. households could watch the Pats nail a perfect season in their finale against the Giants — it’s on the NFL Network on Saturday.

To me, NBC is functioning on the premise that offensive fireworks trumps competitive balance or jockeying in the standings, at least when it comes to ratings. More people will tune in for touchdown after touchdown, regardless of the context. In that sense, SNF is using the flex rule to devolve into college football-like appeal.

All of which only encourages me to tune out. Frankly, by the end of the afternoon action, I’m pretty much football-saturated anyway, so I’m not complaining.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/19/2007 10:50:27 PM
Category: Football
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    As loathe as I am to employ a decidedly overused phrase, I just have to as I ask this:
    Is the New England Patriots’ pursuit of a perfect season creating the perfect storm for the National Football League in its efforts to force cable providers t…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 12/07/2021 @ 08:35:22 PM

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