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How the NFL and TV networks decide what football games you’ll see

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DENVER — Viewers often write to us asking why we didn’t air the NFL game they were hoping to see, or why we did not air a game that was advertised in a prior FOX broadcast.

Brian Kerhin, the assignment manager at a fellow FOX affiliate in Green Bay, Wisc., WLUK-TV, has written a comprehensive explanation as to why local TV stations typically have little to no say in the matter.

Read on below:

* The rules about what games local TV stations are allowed to air are crafted between the NFL and networks which carry the games (FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network). Local affiliates (i.e. FOX31 Denver) have little control in the process – and are sometimes at the mercy of the decisions made on-the-fly by the network.

* Because we are the home market station for the Denver Broncos, if a Broncos game is being broadcast by FOX, we are guaranteed to show it on FOX31 Denver.

* We air every NFL game we can. If we have a post-game show, it’s not replacing a game that’s available to us.

* Just because FOX has games in both the 11 a.m. and 2:25 p.m. slots does not mean we can air two games every week. The networks (generally) alternate doubleheader weeks. Sometimes we can air two, sometimes we can’t. FOX has at least one late game each week because of the west coast home NFC games in Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean we can always air them. It’s not our choice — it’s league and network rules. The upshot here: The on-air promos don’t necessarily translate to games on air for FOX31 Denver.

* FOX assigns us the other games, based on regional interest or national importance. This means we usually get AFC West or NFC North games, because of a displayed interested our region has shown for those games. We can request a change, but the network doesn’t have to grant it.

* For non-prime-time games between teams in different conferences, the network of the visiting team gets the rights.

* Even if it is a FOX doubleheader Sunday, FOX31 Denver can’t air a game at the same time as a Broncos home game. The same rule applies that on a CBS doubleheader week, KCNC in Denver can’t air a different game during a Broncos home game on FOX31 Denver. The only exception to this is Week 17, when both networks get two games because of playoff implications.

* Local fans are guaranteed to see all of the Broncos games on local broadcast stations, even if they are on cable (ESPN or the NFL Network). Those networks put the games up for bids to the local stations for the right to air them.

* The local stations have no control over the flexible scheduling. With the exception of games that FOX and CBS are allowed to protect, for the last seven weeks of the year, the NFL may decide to change games to give NBC a more attractive game in its Sunday night time slot. Games may also move between the early and late doubleheader slots. Thursday and Monday night games, however, do not change.

* FOX and the NFL may opt to change FOX31 Denver’s broadcast away from “blowout” games to more competitive games being played at the same time. Again, we do not have local control over these decisions.

* While there are few preseason games on network television, the rights to the majority of preseason games are sold by the teams to stations of their choosing. The rules described above generally don’t apply to the preseason.

Want more coverage of this story? Click here to read on at FOX11online.com

4 comments

  • Joan

    We enjoy watching the NFL games on your channel. However, we become very frustrated when you only display part of the information of the team names, scores, downs etc. Only a small part on the right hand side appears and one is left to wonder what is going on otherwise.It would be great to be able to correct this. ALL other channels display theirs in full.
    J B

  • Carolyn Hinshaw

    It was your turn to show the doubleheader this week and you didn’t. You decided to show ice skating instead. I am very frustrated with this station and there decisions, maybe I will have to watch the springs stations instead.

  • glc

    Carolyn, I’m not from the station, but I know why you did not get the late Fox game. It’s NFL rules, they were not allowed to show a game against the Broncos home game on CBS. Your local Fox station had no say in the matter. You need to reread the entire article.

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