Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Number of Primetime Appearances Per Team for the 2022 Season

Here are each team’s current number of appearances across the league’s three major primetime packages on NBC, ESPN, and Amazon Prime Video 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, three of which can be scheduled before the season starts; while the new TV deals taking full effect next year include a seventh primetime appearance for each team, several features following this year’s schedule release indicated that for this year, teams are considered “maxed out” after five primetime appearances scheduled before the season. This also means that, since the Packers last year were scheduled for six primetime appearances if you counted their Christmas Day game against the Browns on Fox and NFL Network, and coupled with evidence from seasons past that international games in the late morning window don’t count towards primetime appearances, I’m only counting actual primetime appearances for each team, and not counting any appearances on NFL Network for international or Saturday games, though I am counting the NFLN game the night of Christmas Eve. In the “Flexible” column, a plus sign indicates SNF games in the Week 5-10 early flex period. Note that despite Christmas falling on a Sunday and therefore not able to be flexed, NBC’s press release indicates that the late flex period starts Week 11 this year, not Week 10 as in past years when the Week 16 Sunday night game was rendered unable to be flexed due to Christmas; the Chargers and Niners have an asterisk in their Flexible column in case that’s a typo.

Read moreSunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Number of Primetime Appearances Per Team for the 2022 Season

Something a BIT more substantial than the typical streak-filler post.

I’ve moved the site search to the top bar, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while; it just got too irritating having to go almost, but not quite, all the way to the bottom of the page to search my site on mobile. Beyond that nothing much has changed since last month; I have an idea for an entire series of new posts partly inspired by the arrival of Twitter’s pending new owner that would be relevant for me potentially moving to an alternative platform, but given my recent history who knows if I manage to write one word of it in the next month or even two. I feel like if it weren’t for the NFL Draft I’d have managed to put out one of the posts I’ve been working on in the past week, but if you don’t see it in the next week you’ll know I’ve been kidding myself about that.

This is really not a good sign.

So I think I’ve abandoned the notion of jumping back into sports TV ratings almost as quickly as I took it up – it was just going to involve too much work for too little reward – but that hasn’t really helped me to work on anything else. There were at least three different projects I was hoping would result in posts over the course of the last month and none of them really panned out. Some of that can actually be attributed to me doing some work for my dad, which is nominally the only reason I’ve been able to get away without getting a real job, but some of it can definitely be chalked up to me going back into the same bad habits that have bedeviled me over the past several years, including yet another mobile game to monopolize my time. I’m vaguely optimistic I can get some work in on at least one of those posts over the course of the next week or so, but I feel like I’m probably kidding myself, because I always feel like I’m so close to being productive and then I never am. I’ve gotten a bit more of an insight into why I might act this way, but that doesn’t really help me to deal with it and I don’t know if I’d be able to get the help I need to deal with it at my age. I just hope there’s some way out of the tailspin my life has been in over the past several years, and that I find it right soon.

Beijing 2022 Olympics Ratings Roundup

I can’t believe I’m doing this again. I set a goal for me to actually do something productive that might actually make me some money this year, and had a bunch of projects lined up to do over the next few months, and I allowed myself to get sucked in to something that could chew up a lot of time for not much reward. To make matters worse I’m doing it in Google Sheets in the hopes I might be able to share the spreadsheet directly at some point for people to explore the charts on their own, but at the moment it just means it’s a massive memory hog.

But hey, ShowBuzz Daily seems to be more comprehensive than any source I used when doing this in the past, recording viewers and 18-49 ratings for the top 150 original cable programs of each day in the demo, deeper than any source I’ve used in the past that wasn’t restricted to certain networks, as well as viewers, 18-49 viewers, and household ratings for any event at any time on any network (except for ESPNU and a few other, quirky networks), giving me timelier and more complete coverage of daytime sports events on broadcast networks than I’ve ever had before. It’s already had one shutdown scare, but it at least allows me to provide more comprehensive Olympics ratings coverage than the last time I tried this.

Whether or not these numbers are meaningful outside of NBC is another question. In both Tokyo and Beijing NBC opted to have USA present round-the-clock 24/7 coverage, not even interrupted by WWE Monday Night Raw in the case of Beijing (but occasionally interrupted by Premier League coverage). This means there aren’t necessarily any logical “windows” to report ratings for, and how NBC actually did divide the windows for ratings purposes doesn’t necessarily make any sense. NBC had USA’s primetime window align with NBC’s primetime window, and the late-night “Prime Plus” window align with local news and “Prime Plus” on NBC, even if the resulting cutoffs were in the middle of live event coverage. I can sort of see the logic behind that, and I can even see the logic of setting a hard cutoff at 8 AM ET, usually the time when a hockey game would be starting, but the window starting at that time would usually go for six hours, meaning it would be split roughly evenly between live coverage and a few hours of delayed re-airs. I don’t see how that makes sense even from a selling-to-advertisers perspective; few would be watching consistently for that long, and a live hockey game is likely to draw a different audience from taped coverage.

Regardless, this is my attempt to make sense of what was reported on ShowBuzz Daily. This is a list of every window reported there with viewership of over 500,000. Click here to learn more about how to read the charts, but note that that page is now woefully outdated. 

Read moreBeijing 2022 Olympics Ratings Roundup

Thoughts on @Ourand_SBJ’s Predictions for Sports Media in 2022

As we approach the end of the year we see the arrival of the season for reflecting on the past and predicting the future, and in the sports media business there’s always something going on that make the business of predictions exciting; whenever big rights deals come up for renewal the possibilities seem endless for what might happen, and as the legacy television industry struggles to come to terms with the advent of cord-cutting moves taken now will have ramifications for decades to come. John Ourand’s annual prediction column in the Sports Business Journal is generally good for a mix of bold predictions, assessment of the current landscape, and surprisingly odd analysis for someone so well-connected. Last year’s column, though, proved to be more spot-on than I thought at the time, especially with regard to the NFL’s rights renewal and the shutdown of NBCSN, so it can’t be dismissed out of hand. With that in mind, here’s my take on Ourand’s predictions for 2022:

Read moreThoughts on @Ourand_SBJ’s Predictions for Sports Media in 2022

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 16 (And Abbreviated Week 15)

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 17; and week 18. 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 are not affected by Sunday night flexible scheduling (discounting the “flexible scheduling” applied to Saturdays in December in recent years – 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, historically in five out of six weeks of the main flex period (whether or not they received an additional protection with the expansion of the main flex period an additional week is unknown), 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 may receive 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 18, 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. More rarely, 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 2018 and 2020, respectively, were the first times it showed such games. 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. However, beginning this season, the NFL will also move two games to Saturday to be simulcast on ESPN and ABC.

Before we begin, I have to apologize for not getting this post out last week; between that and the massive delays affecting the season-opening post this has not been my best year for the Flex Schedule Watch. I think I’m going to have to find a way to start working on the Week 15 post before the Week 15 games are over (perhaps by making a cheat sheet), or otherwise abandon the notion of giving percentage chances for each game two weeks out, especially with the 17th game a) adding a game that may or may not be common for wild card purposes and b) pushing the two-weeks-out week to the week of Christmas when I’m travelling and dealing with other commitments, and especially with my attempting to figure out if the strength of victory tiebreaker could be settled before the final week for some situations. While this post has always been the most work and the most stressful part of working on the Flex Schedule Watch since I started using ESPN’s FPI to calculate more specific percentage chances for each game, this year was particularly exhausting, stressful, and while I did manage to finish the work by the end of the day Sunday, the Sunday night game was mostly over at that point. While these are percentage chances going into the Week 16 games (click here to see what the playoff picture looked like going in), I didn’t get the predictions for the Week 17 games until late Saturday night so some of these percentages might incorporate predictions that take the results of the Thursday night and Christmas games into account, and some of these should be considered approximate as I wasn’t as exhaustive at looking at the overall playoff picture as I have in years past. With that in mind, here are the percentage chances for each game being suitable for Sunday night (not Saturday, and mostly not attempting to predict whether they’ll actually be selected) prior to the Week 16 games, along with a very brief summary of why:

Read moreSunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 16 (And Abbreviated Week 15)

Predictions for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022

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 2016 season will be eligible for induction in 2022.

On January 18, the panel will meet virtually and narrow down the list of modern-era finalists down to five. Those five will be considered alongside one senior candidate, one contributor, and one coach, each selected by nine-member subpanels of the larger panel last August, 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 2022 is:

Tony Boselli
Richard Seymour
Zach Thomas
LeRoy Butler
Torry Holt
Cliff Branch
Dick Vermeil
Art McNally

An actually on-time blog-day.

I’m going to keep it pretty quick for this year’s blog-day post, as with the changes to the NFL schedule it coincides with the most stressful part of the year for the Flex Schedule Watch, when I try to game out the scenarios for the final week two weeks in advance, compounded this year by a) the chaotic playoff situation in both conferences and b) games being postponed by COVID outbreaks to Monday and Tuesday and cutting down on how much time I have to pull it off. I hope to have a post ready before we get too far into the Thursday night game, but I’m not sure I can guarantee it, and I’m flying up to Seattle on Friday so I won’t be able to get much work done then.

That’s on top of all the other ideas for posts I’ve been juggling. I hope to have two non-Flex Schedule Watch posts next week, both on the changing sports television landscape and one of which I’ve been meaning to write for over two months (I may have given up on writing a post about the changes in college sports in the past year), and I might try to get something in on another front in the new year. I also have a couple other ideas for decent-sized projects for me to work on once football season and the Olympics are over.

One way or another, we’re about to hit a critical year in the history of Da Blog. I mentioned before that I intended to boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and while my dad has been willing to try and find ways to accommodate, I’d still feel like a failure if I wasn’t in some way self-supporting by then. (It doesn’t help that the pandemic has made a November-December World Cup more defensible than it was before, making it look like FIFA stumbled into a built-in delay to the qualification schedule.) On top of that, last month I ran out of unemployment deferment eligibility on one of my student loans, and while that’s only $40 a month, it’s still something I have to lean on my parents more for and a sign of just how much I’ve wasted the last half-decade-plus. I either take real steps towards becoming self-sufficient in the new year, or I might as well give up on that. Certainly setting yet another record low for posts – this is only the 23rd post since last year’s blog-day post – isn’t an option anymore.

The good news is that while Year Fifteen was yet another wasted year in the history of Da Blog, I feel oddly more optimistic than I felt last year. I’ve still been spending embarrassingly long spans of time working on posts, but I feel like I’ve still been more productive, or at least have been getting into more of the right headspace to work on them. If I can get into enough of a groove and overcome all the distractions and screwed-up sleep schedules in my life, Year Sixteen may yet prove to be a turning point out of my recent rut. That’s obviously a big if, but it at least feels like more of a possibility than it felt like last year, and it’s certainly worth trying because I don’t know if I want to know what the alternative looks like.

(Okay, so I said I was going to keep it quick but this addendum is going to make it longer than last year’s blog-day post. What can I say, there’s a limit to how short these posts can be, and I did spend only a little over half an hour writing this.)

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 14

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 17; and week 18. 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 are not affected by Sunday night flexible scheduling (discounting the “flexible scheduling” applied to Saturdays in December in recent years – 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, historically in five out of six weeks of the main flex period (whether or not they received an additional protection with the expansion of the main flex period an additional week is unknown), 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 may receive 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 18, 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. More rarely, 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 2018 and 2020, respectively, were the first times it showed such games. 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. However, beginning this season, the NFL will also move two games to Saturday to be simulcast on ESPN and ABC.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Read moreSunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 14

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 13

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 17; and week 18. 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 are not affected by Sunday night flexible scheduling (discounting the “flexible scheduling” applied to Saturdays in December in recent years – 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, historically in five out of six weeks of the main flex period (whether or not they received an additional protection with the expansion of the main flex period an additional week is unknown), 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 may receive 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 18, 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. More rarely, 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 2018 and 2020, respectively, were the first times it showed such games. 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. However, beginning this season, the NFL will also move two games to Saturday to be simulcast on ESPN and ABC.

Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Read moreSunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 13