SBD/December 7, 2011/Media

CBS, NBC Fighting Over Rights To Air Upcoming Patriots-Broncos Matchup

Patriots-Broncos likely to draw big ratings, in part due to Tebow
The NFL today is expected to announce "which network will carry" the Dec. 18 Patriots-Broncos game after CBS and NBC spent yesterday “engaged in a tug-of-war over which will ultimately show” the game, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Despite a midnight deadline last night "to determine whether it would be ‘flexed’ from a 4:15 p.m start on CBS’s Sunday schedule to NBC’s prime-time ‘Sunday Night Football’ time slot, the matter was not settled.” NBC “wants to utilize its contractual right with the NFL to move the game” to its "SNF" broadcast, replacing the previously scheduled Ravens-Chargers matchup. It became “increasingly evident Tuesday as the hours passed without an announcement that CBS was attempting to keep the game and a stalemate had occurred.” Since flex scheduling was implemented in ‘06, there are “no other documented instances of a decision being held until a Wednesday.” CBS and Fox “can protect one game per week from being flexed under league rules, but the catch is that CBS protected Sunday’s Eagles-Jets matchup weeks ago, when that game had considerably more luster." Finn notes Patriots-Broncos “is certain to be a ratings blockbuster for whichever network carries it” (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7). In Denver, Mike Klis writes CBS is “considered the ‘AFC network,’ yet it was not able to capitalize on telecasting a Tebow-led Broncos comeback" against the Vikings last Sunday. Fox was “handed the ratings bonanza because of an NBC flex game" that broadcast Lions-Saints (DENVER POST, 12/7).

ENOUGH ALREADY: YAHOO SPORTS’ Matthew Darnell wrote he is “not sure” what NBC and CBS are “fighting about -- there are clear-cut rules for how this works.” NBC can “indeed swap its game for another game, but only after Fox and CBS have both chosen to ‘protect’ one of their games.” Either CBS “protected the Broncos vs. Patriots game or it didn't.” Darnell did mention Patriots Owner Robert Kraft “can have considerable influence over anything he wants to influence” (, 12/6).
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