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Are you ready for some ‘Tuesday Night Football’ from NFL?

Updated May 14, 2023 - 10:55 pm

It has often been said the fact that the NFL was able to turn the draft from a formerly mundane conference-room meeting into a weekend-long spectacle and TV ratings bonanza is the ultimate sign of just how dominant the league has become.

Enter schedule-release day.

Despite fans knowing for months and even years which opponents their favorite team will be playing this season, a live show unveiling the order of those games has become a huge hit.

Those dates are in such high demand that the traditional network morning shows have even joined the festivities and were awarded the privilege of dropping a few of the nuggets early.

It was already a completely wild concept even before team social media accounts started joining the fray a few years back with schedule-release videos that would launch simultaneously with the live broadcast across multiple platforms. They have gotten more creative and more expensive to produce every year as the competition to be the best has grown to the point where some organizations are publicly shamed for not being clever or indulgent enough.

For what it’s worth, they’re all just competing for second place to the Chargers each year. But back to the point.

Expansion coming

For a league that is already a behemoth in the sports and entertainment landscape, anything can be valuable content.

That’s how massive the NFL is, and it’s not going to slow down. In fact, fans might want to start preparing for even busier weeks at some point in the near future.

There was a great deal of attention on the addition of a Black Friday game this season, which makes a ton of sense with Amazon’s investment in the league as one of the newest rights-holders. It’s noteworthy the game will take place early in the day.

The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 essentially restricts the NFL from airing games on Friday nights when it could keep people from attending high school games and Saturdays when it would compete with college football. While there have been some rare exceptions, the league has generally adhered to these guidelines.

The NFL does take advantage of the Saturday window once the college football season ends. It has also expanded outside the traditional Sunday and Monday schedule by making Thursday games a staple, though there hasn’t been much talk of adding Tuesday and Wednesday to the rotation.

Get ready for it. The networks are going to demand it.

The spread of streaming and fracturing of the traditional broadcast model have left live sports as the only programming that can grab people’s attention enough to actually tune in at a set time. And the NFL has no comparison.

Of the top 100 most-watched broadcasts in 2022, want to guess how many were NFL programming?

The correct answer is 82. Seriously. That includes 19 of the top 20. Overall, the NFL accounted for 10 percent of all time spent watching live television in 2022. The top scripted show of the year was the season premiere of “Yellowstone,” which appeared on multiple channels and still only clocked in at No. 132, a figure that included live and same-day viewers.

That’s wild. And the trend will only continue, so it will be incumbent on the league to save the very concept of networks.

Enter Tuesday and Wednesday games. There will be a great deal of logistical elements to work out, not the least of which are safety concerns. But it’s not like teams will be asked to play on a Tuesday after a Sunday.

They will figure it out, and the players union will ultimately agree when it sees the dollar figures that get tossed around.

The same goes for the inevitable expansion to Europe, which will give the league and networks even more options for more nights.

Up all night

While the NFL can do no wrong, the NHL continues to find ways to turn away potential viewers.

Sunday night’s Game 6 between the Golden Knights and the Oilers, one of the most entertaining series the league has to offer, featuring some of the sport’s biggest stars, will air at 7 p.m.

On a Sunday. With no other NHL games all day and the only NBA playoff game at 12:30 p.m.

So anyone in the Eastern time zone will need to be up well past midnight to watch the third period of what could be an elimination game for Connor McDavid.

Obviously, it’s not a decision made by the NHL. ESPN has the first right to air the game, and the network will air “Sunday Night Baseball” before Game 6.

The league’s return to ESPN last year on a seven-year deal was great for exposure. It was the right decision.

But this is far from ideal.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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