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Saturday, February 29, 2020

NFL exploring possibility of using flex scheduling for ‘Monday Night Football’

Roger Goodell

The NFL has taken steps over the past several years to give fans a better chance of seeing meaningful games in primetime slots, and the league wants to be able to do that with games played on both Monday and Sunday nights.

In 2006, the NFL implemented flexible scheduling that allows for better matchups to be featured on “Sunday Night Football”. Games between Week 5-17 can be affected by flex scheduling, though only two matchups total can be flexed between Week 5 and Week 10. After that, the NFL tries assure that the Sunday night game has some sort of playoff implication.

According to Ben Fischer and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, the NFL recently asked teams for feedback on the possibility of expanding flex scheduling to include Monday night games as well. That would mean games that are scheduled for Sunday could be moved to Monday, and vice versa. The goal would be for “Monday Night Football” to feature more meaningful matchups later in the season, though the issue is obviously more complicated than moving teams from one Sunday time slot to another Sunday time slot.

Flexing games from Sunday to Monday and vice versa would have travel implications, which would be a concern for teams. There would also likely be backlash from fans who planned to attend games, as that would greatly impact their schedules if they bought tickets in advance. That said, the NFL is obviously looking into the possibly of Monday night flexing because they believe ratings could improve, and the goal would be giving fans more primetime matchups that they want to see.

The NFL’s current media rights deal runs through the 2022 season, so any major change like Monday flex scheduling would not take effect for a few more years. However, SBJ reports that ESPN has been pushing to incorporate flex scheduling as part of its next “Monday Night Football” deal, and the network has offered to broadcast games on fellow Disney-owned station ABC again if it happens.

ESPN is reportedly preparing to make a massive contract offer to Tony Romo, and that number may even increase if flex scheduling is on the horizon for “Monday Night Football.” If the network believes it is going to happen, that would almost certainly mean better ratings down the road.


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