GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The NFL regular season returns this week, and millions of fans will be tuning in in several different ways in several different venues, but one thing remains the same: some of the NFL TV network rules make viewers unhappy. And that brings us to the reason for this story:
Due to NFL network broadcast rules, which affect the FOX and CBS broadcast schedules, FOX 17 will not be able to show the 1:00 p.m. network match-up between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, and will only be able to show the 4:00 p.m. “home market” game of the Detroit Lions and the San Diego Chargers.
Basically, the rules go like this: On Sundays during the season, either FOX or CBS get to air a doubleheader, both a 1:00 p.m. and a 4:00 p.m. game. This week is CBS’s turn, so FOX stations only get one game. Since the Detroit Lions are our “home market” team, that game is shown here. Because the Lions are playing in the Pacific time zone and is considered a 4:00 p.m. Eastern game, we don’t get a 1:00 p.m. game. Other markets, like Chicago, get to air the 1:00 p.m. game with the Bears but don’t get to air a 4:00 p.m. match-up.
The website 506sports.com publishes national color-coded maps each week for the week’s NFL games. You can see that all of Michigan, northern Ohio, and for some reason the Kansas City area, gets to only see the Lions vs. Chargers on FOX. (Click on the photo to enlarge it)
Viewers in Grand Rapids will get to see two games on CBS along with the Lions on FOX. Before you say “big deal,” viewers in Chicago, Jacksonville and St. Louis won’t get an early CBS game or a FOX late game. (Click to enlarge)
So, for your viewing pleasure, FOX Sports is giving us German soccer: FC Bayern Munich vs. FC Augsburg at 2:00pm. Since soccer doesn’t feel the need to resolve itself if there is a tie, it will be over by 4:00 p.m. for the Lions game.
Detroit Lions Game Day will air on FOX 17 at 11:00 a.m. and FOX NFL Sunday will air at noon. There will be a couple of Modern Family episodes from 1:00 p.m. until the soccer match.
Other early NFL Fox games and late games are still available via the NFL Sunday Ticket subscription service and by visiting your local sports bar that also subscribes.
There is no need to call us on Sunday afternoon asking why we aren’t showing the NFL. We can’t. And in coming weeks, we will have doubleheaders and CBS won’t, so it will all even out in the end.