Right now I fully intend to jump back into Steven Universe in July – I might end up putting it off until August but that would start to impinge on football season and I’d like to stop feeling useless as soon as possible – so this should be the last post that just serves the purpose of making sure I have a post every month at least until February, but man, I’ve just been doing the bare minimum of posting in the first half of 2019. I’ve actually started to run out of things to say in these posts. If I’m still struggling to maintain posting every month when I don’t have something like the Flex Schedule Watch to make it automatic I may just ask whether anyone other than me even cares that I have a post every month. At this point, if I do become more active with Da Blog again it’ll be like I have two periods of prominence in the history of Da Blog, the period before 2016, and whatever period starts up again after.
Back in February I listed a number of things I wished to do with Da Blog over the next month or two, none of which actually panned out. Many of those ideas and several others besides remain backed up for me to attempt to do in the coming months. With the release of the Mueller Report it hasn’t been timelier for me to work on my series on fixing the Constitution since the election, but until earlier this week I spent more of my time working on notes for a project that may or may not turn into another book or some other project that gets put up somewhere, notes I originally intended to work on after my Constitution series but which I find easier to engage with. It’s easier to immerse myself in a fantasy world than the real world that seems to be circling the abyss.
At this point I likely won’t pick up Steven Universe again until July, partly because I’m facing a monetary crunch with renewals for my website hosting and domain name coming up this month, partly because I got sick earlier this week which made that crunch worse as I loaded up on medicine and other things. There’s a slight chance the site will go down briefly in about two weeks, but I doubt it and I’m trying to spend the rest of the month in more of a savings mode. The site already went down earlier in the month after something broke without me changing anything, and that coupled with how the issue got resolved made me a little antsy about signing up with A2 again, but I don’t think there’s anything too serious that would lead me to abandon the status quo.
Last year, after the NFL Draft aired on broadcast for the first time ever, I wrote a blog post looking at the resulting ratings and what it meant for the NFL’s desire for “presidential election”-style coverage of the draft on every major network. This year, ESPN agreed to air all three days of the draft on ABC, with the first two days being college-focused coverage from College GameDay that aired on ESPN2 last year. This was somewhat surprising to me, because last year Grey’s Anatomy significantly outpaced Fox’s coverage in the 8 PM ET hour, and ABC was hosting what amounted to side coverage alongside the existing coverage on ESPN and NFL Network. I figured the league would want to repeat last year’s experiment another year, and if ESPN did decide to put the draft on ABC they would put it on only ABC, making pre-empting Grey’s more palatable and allowing both ESPN and ESPN2 to air NBA playoff games on Friday if needed. Still, it is understandable; ESPN is desperate to maintain their relationship with the league entering contract renegotiations, including pumping up ABC as a broadcast outlet for the league, while still preserving whatever impact the draft still has on their carriage fees.
Did we learn anything more about the future of the draft on broadcast? Let’s find out. This is going to be significantly shorter than last year’s analysis, and I’m going to assume, for the most part, you already read last year’s post for context.
Last month, Variety reported that the NFL was looking into the possibility of decoupling its Sunday afternoon television contracts from each conference in its next television contract beyond 2022 (no link because Variety’s site is too ad-laden and required me to reload something like three times before I could actually read the article; here’s a brief summary). I could swear I at least saw speculation to that effect during or even before last season, because I’m pretty sure I had the idea for this post back then, but I couldn’t find anything and nothing I saw passing on the Variety report tied it to anything earlier, and in any case it might have just been the sort of baseless speculation my commenters like to get into. If the Variety report is the first time this has come to light, it’s worth noting that the specific phrasing used in the report was that Fox and CBS “could get to air packages that include games from both the NFC and AFC, as opposed to the current system, which keeps the NFC on Fox and the AFC on CBS”, so it’s not even clear that it would mean more than an expansion of the current cross-flex system as opposed to the full decoupling it’s easy to interpret it as (assuming anything like this comes to fruition at all, which it might not).
If the NFL does completely sever Fox and CBS’ respective slates of games from conference affiliation, it would do away with what might seem like an archaic relic of the days before the AFL-NFL merger, but it would also pose a considerable logistical challenge. The NFL is unique among major professional sports leagues in the United States in that television production and distribution for all 256 games are handled by national networks; any game not selected to air in primetime is produced by Fox or CBS for regional distribution in one of their Sunday afternoon timeslots. If which network gets which game isn’t determined by which conference the road team is from, what does determine it?
Here are each team’s number of appearances across the league’s three primetime packages on NBC, ESPN, and Fox/NFL Network for the season, useful for determining what games can be flexed into or out of Sunday night for my Flex Schedule Watch. Recall the appearance limits are six primetime games for three teams, five for everyone else, and four NBC appearances. In the “Flexible” column, a plus sign indicates SNF games in the Week 5-10 early flex period. Note that the Bucs, Panthers, Jaguars, and Texans may each have one more appearance than I’m crediting them for, as each have games in London airing on NFL Network, and three of the following games will move to Saturday Week 16 on NFLN, increasing their counts: HOU/TB, BUF/NE, DET/DEN, OAK/LAC, or SF/LAR.
I had a few ideas for posts this month, but none of them really panned out, and so not much has changed from my last post, aside from the fact that I’m obviously not doing any March Madness posts. I promise that in April I’ll have something that isn’t just an “update” post or a post I’d have done anyway. Possibly as soon as this week, even.
I have a number of posts I’ve been thinking of working on, but due to various distractions (it’s been what, over seven months since I got a new phone? and the games I installed as a result are still derailing my productivity) and other factors haven’t actually been working on this month:
- I may be working on a post on the Oscars (that I really should have written earlier this week) that would allow me to start up on my series on how to fix the American political system again. Regardless of whether I write that post, I really should be working on that series again soon. And yes, there is a connection between the Oscars and the American political system.
- I have one or two post ideas in connection with March Madness that may come out over the next month, though one of them would require intense use of Da Blog Poll and, based on past experience, would be kinda useless if I don’t have a sizable audience coming in to vote on it. The other I kinda regret not writing last year and may not be relevant this year.
- There were several points in December and January that I came very close to starting up Steven Universe again, especially with another batch of episodes coming out in that time to end the fifth season (and based on what limited spoilers I’ve been exposed to, the overarching plot of the whole series), but at this point I’m not likely to take it up again until June, assuming I can sign up for another Hulu free trial after one year has elapsed since the first one.
I also may look into other platforms to write for sometime in the next few months.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selections are performed by a panel of 46 leading NFL media members including representatives of all 32 NFL teams, a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America, and 13 at-large writers.
The panel has selected a list of 15 finalists from the modern era, defined as playing all or part of their careers within the last 25 years. A player must have spent 5 years out of the league before they can be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Players that last played in the 2013 season will be eligible for induction in 2019.
During Super Bowl Weekend, the panel will meet and narrow down the list of modern-era finalists down to five. Those five will be considered alongside one senior candidate, selected by a nine-member subpanel of the larger panel last August, and two contributors (not players or coaches), selected by another nine-member subpanel, for a total of eight. From this list, at least four and no more than eight people will be selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
My prediction for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 is:
Hall of Fame Game: Chiefs v. Washington
I headed into writing this post thinking that this was the most productive year for Da Blog in the last few years, even if it was hardly the improvement I would have hoped for a year ago. I spent a significant amount of time on a project other than the Flex Scheduling Watch that produced several posts, changed hosting providers, and changed the design of Da Blog for the first time in a decade or more. So I was surprised to find that this is only the 37th post since the last blog-day post, only one more than last year.
To be sure, of the three things I accomplished this year only one actually produced a substantial number of posts, and that thing ended up falling far short of my expectations. That had the effect of only keeping pace with the handful of posts on the state of our politics I was able to get in between the blog-day post two years ago and the inauguration. Were it not for my Steven Universe posts I might well have broken what I thought at the time was an unbreakable record low.
The Steven Universe project did give me a chance to learn some things about myself and my productivity. It made me realize just how much brainpower I needed to bear on any truly in-depth, thoughtful posts, and how little I tended to have, to the point of needing to load up on protein bars before working on them. But despite having done everything I needed to to put up my Season 2 wrap-up post by mid-to-late August, I haven’t done any more work on it since that post at the end of August, spending most of my time not spent on the Flex Schedule Watch on all the more frivolous projects, and despite intending to get back to it this month, with SU resuming new episodes (including what at least nominally would be the start of a sixth season given previously known information) starting tonight as I write this, I never did, instead spending all my time before flying up to Seattle on something highly tangential to a project I’ve been thinking about since the election but that looks to be unlikely to start serious work on in the coming year, something tangential enough that it’s highly unlikely it’ll ever come up in that project.
Another reason I let SU go by the wayside this month, besides December increasingly becoming one of the more stressful months for the Flex Schedule Watch as I try to play out the Week 17 scenarios (my new method of preparing the Week 14 post involves figuring out every single scenario that would lead to a given game, same as the following week, and I think I still missed several scenarios that might have affected the percentage chances, including the one that actually played out, while appealing to my commenters’ out-there “two NBC games” theory delayed the Week 15 post until it not only forced the postponement of this one but came after Saturday’s games), was finding out that Season 5 episodes wouldn’t leave my cable provider’s On Demand service until March, relieving the pressure of having to finish them before Season 6 started. Still, with the Flex Schedule Watch done for the season, I fully intend to get back to SU in the new year, though getting back in the right mindset for it could be a bit of a challenge since it’s been so long since I watched any episodes. And I hope to finally get back to work on my series on reforming the Constitution in time for any debates surrounding the Mueller report and impeachment.
Despite the challenges, I have every reason to think Year Twelve of Da Blog succeeded in establishing a foundation that will allow Year Thirteen to be the lucky year that puts me back on a path to productivity and making a place in the world. Will Year Twelve be the last of the past few years of “lost” years? Time will tell, but despite the optimism I’ve expressed in the last few blog-day posts, I really do feel like this has a good chance to be the year that turns things around… though it’s worth noting I may have also lowered my expectations for what that means, fully preparing for the possibility of taking a few months “off” between projects to rest my brain. Here’s hoping that doesn’t completely derail my progress. Fingers crossed? (Wow, I did not intend to end this post on this dark a note…)
Since it started in its current format as the NFL’s main primetime package in 2006, the defining feature of NBC’s Sunday Night Football has been the use of flexible scheduling to ensure the best matchups and showcase the best teams as the season goes along. Well, that’s the theory, anyway; the reality has not always lived up to the initial hype and has at times seemed downright mystifying. Regardless, I’m here to help you figure out what you can and can’t expect to see on Sunday nights on NBC.
A full explanation of all the factors that go into flexible scheduling decisions can be found on my NFL Flexible Scheduling Primer, but here’s the Cliffs Notes version with all the important points you need to know:
- The season can be broken down into three different periods (four if you count the first four weeks where flexible scheduling does not apply at all) for flexible scheduling purposes, each with similar yet different rules governing them: the early flex period, from weeks 5 to 10; the main flex period, from weeks 11 to 16; and week 17. In years where Christmas forces either the Sunday afternoon slate or the Sunday night game to Saturday in Week 16, flex scheduling does not apply that week, and the main flex period begins week 10.
- In all cases, only games scheduled for Sunday may be moved to Sunday night. Thursday and Monday night games, as well as late-season Saturday games, are not affected by Sunday night flexible scheduling (discounting the “flexible scheduling” applied to Saturday of Week 16 this year – see below).
- During the early and main flex periods, one game is “tentatively” scheduled for Sunday night and listed with the Sunday night start time of 8:20 PM ET. This game will usually remain at that start time and air on NBC, but may be flexed out for another game and moved to 1, 4:05, or 4:25 PM ET on Fox or CBS, no less than 12 days in advance of the game.
- No more than two games can be flexed to Sunday night over the course of the early flex period. If the NFL wishes to flex out a game in the early flex period twelve days in advance, CBS and Fox may elect to protect one game each from being moved to Sunday night. This is generally an emergency valve in situations where the value of the tentative game has plummeted since the schedule was announced, namely in cases of injury to a key star player.
- CBS and Fox may also each protect games in five out of six weeks of the main flex period, but all of those protections must be submitted after week 5, week 4 in years where the main flex period begins week 10 (so it is always six weeks before the start of the main flex period).
- No team may appear more than six times across the league’s three primetime packages on NBC, ESPN, and Fox/NFL Network, and only three teams are allowed to appear that often, with everyone else getting five. In addition, no team may appear more than four times on NBC. All teams’ number of appearances heading into this season may be seen here.
- According to the league’s official page, teams are notified when “they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.” However, they rarely make this known to the fans, and the list of each network’s protections has never officially been made public. It used to leak fairly regularly, but has not leaked since 2014.
- In all cases, the NFL is the ultimate arbiter of the schedule and consults with CBS, Fox, and NBC before moving any games to prime time. If the NFL does elect to flex out the Sunday night game, the network whose game is flexed in receives the former tentative game, regardless of which network would “normally” air it under the “CBS=AFC, Fox=NFC” rules, keeping each network’s total number of games constant. At the same time, the NFL may also move games between 1 PM ET and 4:05/4:25 PM ET. However, this feature focuses primarily if not entirely on Sunday night flexible scheduling.
- In Week 17, the entire schedule is set on only six days notice, ensuring that NBC gets a game with playoff implications, generally a game where the winner is the division champion. In theory, NBC may also show an intra-division game for a wild card spot, or a game where only one team wins the division with a win but doesn’t win the division with a loss, but such situations are rare and NBC has never shown them. If no game is guaranteed to have maximum playoff implications before Sunday night in this fashion, the league has been known not to schedule a Sunday night game at all. To ensure maximum flexibility, no protections or appearance limits apply to Week 17. The NFL also arranges the rest of the schedule such that no team playing at 4:25 PM ET (there are no 4:05 games Week 17) could have their playoff fate decided by the outcome of the 1 PM ET games, which usually means most if not all of the games with playoff implications outside Sunday night are played at 4:25 PM ET.
Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions: