The NFL season is still over five months away and with changes likely coming to the playoff structure sooner than later, there are some other things that the league could look into to tweak the game some. The advent of the NCAA using staggered start times for the NCAA Tournament has prompted some bloggers to consider the idea of the NFL doing the same thing. There are many issues with doing something like that though.
There is no way that the TV networks are going to put up with games starting each hour or half hour which would go well into the night and take away the Sunday night programming on CBS and Fox. The league has already tweaked start times for playoff games in recent years to move more toward primetime but having three or four games with start times of 9 or 10 p.m. Eastern Time likely isn’t going to work out too well in the end.
Also, there is the fantasy football aspect of this. If only three or four games are played per time slot, it is going to keep owners at the computers all day long tweaking instead of just setting their lineups by 1 p.m. and being done with it. The NFL has seen the explosion in fantasy football popularity and won’t want to mess with success.
There have been suggestions of having four broadcast windows instead of the three right now on Sundays with games starting at Noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern time. NBC would be able to keep their Sunday night game alone at 6 p.m. and then have three games on from the west coast in the late timeslot. NBC probably isn’t going to want that either so that’s likely out.
It leaves only a few other ideas. Could the NFL decide to go to a Monday night doubleheader each week? Would the league consider having more games on Saturday late in the season so more fans could see more games? The NFL RedZone channel was invented for the sole purpose to allow fans to just go from game to game when it is exciting. Anything is possible but the idea of moving start times around or having staggered starts isn’t going to fly in all likelihood.