NBC canceled an upcoming NFL broadcast, for a reason that may come as a surprise to industry observers even though it’s a familiar reason behind TV programming decisions.
“The reason why can be summed in up in one word: Ratings,” Deadline says in reporting that the “Sunday Night Football” telecast planned for New Year’s Eve was canceled. NFL coverage is typically among the highest-rated programming on television, even if this year’s numbers have been a little lower than usual.
“The NFL hadn’t yet decided which teams would play in the Sunday night game, but none met the criteria for a must-watch showdown,” Deadline reports. “It’s also New Year’s Eve, and would likely draw fewer eyeballs than usual. Instead, the afternoon will be blanketed with grid-iron coverage, with seven games scheduled for 1 PM and an unusual nine games scheduled for 4:25 PM kickoffs, with no 8:30 PM game this year.”
The decision was made by the NFL, whose New Year’s Eve games will be carried by CBS and Fox.
In a statement, NFL Senior VP of broadcasting Howard Katz said:“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. ET windows. This ensures that we do not have a matchup on ‘Sunday Night Football’ on New Year’s Eve that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams.”
In place of football, NBC will reportedly broadcast “Dateline NBC” from 7-9 p.m. and “The Wall” from 9-11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.