Some Basic NFL Scheduling Rules

By Ken Foote | CBSDFW.COM

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – I thought I would take a moment today to remind everyone about some basic NFL scheduling rules. I know most of you know them but for those of you who don’t or need a refresher, here you go!

  • CBS 11 is an AFC station in an NFC market. The times that our Sunday afternoon games are scheduled are determined primarily by: 1) Whether CBS or FOX have the designated doubleheader and 2) When, where, and who the Dallas Cowboys play. For example, this past weekend, our game (Cleveland @ Philadelphia) had a noon start while FOX had the doubleheader and the Giants/Cowboys game at 3:25 p.m. The only time that both CBS and FOX will both have a doubleheader concurrently is Week 17 (this year, January 1, 2017).
  • Games on individual networks are determined by contractual arrangements the NFL has in place with them. In our market, FOX will have nine Cowboys games but CBS 11 will have two, NBC will have four, and ESPN will have one.
  • Game assignments are made by the networks to their stations, known as “regionalization assignments.” Every attempt is made to be assigned the best games of the week that have the most appeal in a station’s viewing area, notwithstanding the Cowboys of course! Stations can request a change if they feel an alternative game has more local appeal, but must demonstrate some justification for the request. In most cases, the game assignments we receive here at CBS 11 are well received by our viewing public.
  • When scheduling our games around the Dallas Cowboys as the home market team, the only time a competing game can be shown concurrently is when the home team is on the road. For example, this Sunday the Cowboys are in Washington with a noon start and it is a FOX single-header day. Since CBS 11 is the doubleheader station this weekend, we will have two games. If it was Washington @ Dallas at noon, we would be blacked out at that time and have only one game at 3:25 p.m. The NFL’s Home Market Rule basically protects the home team broadcast on one station from competitive games airing concurrently on another station when the home team is playing at home.
  • Flexing: a process that allows the networks under their NFL agreements to move stations from a less competitive game to one that is more competitive (except for Cowboys broadcasts here locally). There has to be an 18-point lead or greater at the start of the third quarter before this happens. Once a station is moved to another game, NFL rules prohibit the networks from returning that game to the stations so flexed even if the game becomes competitive. This generates reactions from our viewers at times!
  • Folding: a process whereby the networks take their viewers to another game in progress not originally assigned to a market because of the assigned game in our area ending early. This past weekend we saw the end of two others NFL games on CBS before they returned to their studios in New York for their postgame show.
  • CBS 11 will have five Thursday night games in September and October produced by CBS and simulcast on NFL Network. On these nights, “Wheel of Fortune” will move to KTXA at 5:30 p.m. These games have a 7:25 p.m. kickoff. While NBC will have a few of these NFL Network simulcasts, some of the Thursday Night games are exclusive to NFL Network. These NFL Network games on CBS have a pregame show but a very short postgame show.
  • ESPN NFL games are exclusive to ESPN only unless a local team is playing. In that case, the local broadcast rights to simulcast them are granted exclusively to one station located in the home team market.

If you have any questions about how all of this works, please feel free to email me at and I will be glad to answer your question. Thank you for watching CBS 11 and TXA 21! Go Cowboys!


One Comment

  1. Mark says:

    Why does CBS continue to believe that because DFW is in Texas we all must want to watch the Houston Texans? Seems to be the case for many years that the Texans are on in DFW more often than not. We really do not care about the Texans CBS…show them in Houston if you want.

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