ESPN's Monday Night Football had a blockbuster 2019, its best season of viewership since 2015, but the NFL is still thinking about tinkering with its schedule formula.
The league is exploring the idea of flexing Monday Night Football games, according to a report Monday from the Sports Business Journal, to help with late-season viewer apathy when matchups between listless teams can sink the number of fans tuning in.
Per the SBJ:
The NFL has asked teams for feedback on the prospect of radically expanding flex scheduling, including the possibility of moving games from Sunday to Monday in mid-season, sources said.
Before the holidays, league executives posed an open-ended question to teams: How much flexing could they handle? How much advance notice would teams need if broadcasters wanted to switch a Sunday afternoon game to “Monday Night Football?” What if every week of the season were opened to flexing?
The NFL did not propose a specific plan.
Potential changes wouldn't go into effect until 2023, according to the SBJ, when the league's new media rights deal kicks in.
Hopefully, the changes never go into effect. The questionnaire shows the league is at least thinking about the teams involved in the flexes, but what about fans?
Fans often make travel plans for away games as soon as their team's schedule is released, and Eagles fans travel better than maybe any fan base in the league. Remember that 2017 home game in Los Angeles?
Shifting a game from an early start to a late start on the same day isn't a big deal, save maybe a few missed flights, but shifting a game an entire day would disrupt fans' travel entirely. All of a sudden, your Sunday morning hotel checkout needs to be a Monday morning checkout, the car you rented needs a day's extension, and everything is suddenly bad.
Monday Night Football games would become liabilities worth avoiding for traveling fans, and even home fans would have to wonder if they could gamble on buying tickets to Sunday games when a possible flex to the next night is a reality.
Maybe instead, the league should be a little smarter with its scheduling. Putting a Giants-Eagles game on Monday Night Football in Week 14, when the Giants have been rudderless for years and aren't expected to be competitive come December, probably isn't a good idea.
Punt. Pass. Whatever. Just don't do it.
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