On November 23, 2015, the Buffalo Bills will travel to play the
New England Patriots. And there’s something strange about the
a Monday night game. And sure, there doesn’t seem to be anything
amazing about that. Divisional game… Rex Ryan coming to town…
and all the other assorted this-and-that details make a primetime
start to this contest a smart move.
well… the Bills last played on Thursday, November 12th. That means
in addition to having an extended time off thanks to the Thursday
night game, they ended up with an extra day off as play for them
begins again on Monday and not Sunday. The bonus from having that
extra day, and a road match with New England? A short week, where
they’ll again be on the road, this time facing Kansas City.
this year Pittsburgh was treated to a similar run… only their
third game in the Thursday-Monday-Sunday run was a home game.
is an example of a more pressing concern though… based on driving
revenue and pushing scheduling. Because I think in a few years,
when people are wondering where the NFL went off the tracks from
what currently seems like an unstoppable run of increasing profits
that resembles printing money on command, this should be a big
item on the list of problems.
now have games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights for pretty
much the entire season, and 16 games per week.
Thursday games stop on December 24th and week 16. Also, bye weeks,
which reduce the weekly number of games by one or two for a good
stretch of the year. When you see the math I’m about to do though,
add in multiple games on Thanksgiving, and remember the international
contests, if you have the NFL Network it pretty much works out
that an even higher percentage of weekly games are available,
and I’m being kind basing it on 16 games per week. Here we go…
starting with three night games a week…)
television generally broadcasts 3 games in the 1pm and 4pm time
slots each Sunday. And that means you have access to seeing 6
of the 16 games each week, whether you subscribe to the lovely
DirecTV package or not.
not here to discuss whether or not short weeks are bad for the
players. And I don’t want to investigate whether games being played
night after night is eventually going to wear out audiences so
that they learn to avoid the television.
consider those things and more as marks on the checklist. When
the Buffalo Bills played the New York Jets on Thursday night…
well… it was actually the Buffalo Santas playing the New York
Elves. (And if you don’t get that joke, head on over to your search
engine of choice and enter these words -- Bills Jets Ugly Uniforms)
general thought that every team should get a primetime game is
actually a good one. And we shouldn’t be surprised that the NFL
wants to support its network with a schedule of games that is
when the schedule gives teams short weeks, long breaks, and little
consistency… yeah… that’s a problem. When the mass airing of games
begins taking away massive chunks of every night instead of a
few hours each Sunday for the season… yeah… it gets to be a bit
much. And it’s a problem with easy solutions. And yet… dollar
signs. Each network wants some big audience games. Each network
wants some good contests, and not find them lost to evening broadcasts.
dollar signs extend into places such as playing in alternate uniforms.
(On sale now!)
you don’t believe it’s dollars, then just watch Los Angeles. Word
is any team selected and accepted for moving into LA -- which
right now includes Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis as teams
competing for the right -- will be asked to pay a $500 million
relocation fee. And if you don’t believe that the primary reason
that it’s possible two teams will make the move isn’t one billion
dollars in fees, then you’re just fooling yourself.
we go back to the original situation I presented to you. Scheduling…
one sign of the breakdown of the league’s attempts to advance
itself and expand the market. For the Bills… four days between
games, followed by eleven, followed by six. None of that is regular
or routine. And it covers a quarter of the team’s schedule by
the time it’s done.
that’s not the only thing on display.
of uniform combinations… games lasting longer… promotions and
commercials in between plays and during every possible breath
that can be sponsored… and… well… I’d make a Lions and Packers
and Bears joke, but you get the point. It’s almost too much.
get officiating where even when the crews make the right calls
according to the rules, there is still no answer as to what is
actually a catch. And somehow, through it all, the NFL continues
to make money.
some point, that will end. It may be the desire to attempt expansion
across oceans. It might be a schedule with games on every night
of the week. When it does end though, look at the inability to
get the scheduling correct. It’s a small thing element. It’s might
even be missed when those days arrive and the debates of how it
happened begin. As the NFL struggles to get anything right though,
the simple things should be simple to correct.