SBJ/September 17-23, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Time out with Howard Katz, NFL SVP, broadcasting and media operations

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> On the schedule-making process: We manually input a lot of games and then let the computers solve around that. We just keep working it, working it, working it until we finally come out with something we’re comfortable with and are prepared to recommend to the commissioner.

> On lessons learned from 2011: The 2011 schedule was unique because there was a lot of labor uncertainty. We did certain things on the schedule last year to give us some protection for if the season didn’t start on time, we’d still be able to put out a schedule that had some date certainty for our teams and our fans. 2011 was really a unique year. Given all the complexities of that, overall we were pleased with the schedule. There were some things that we did with cross-country travel and other things that we would have preferred not to have. We did a better job this year because we didn’t have the same complexities at the beginning.

> On TV network lobbying: I didn’t get any lavish gifts. For media companies, the lobbying starts just after the Super Bowl and continues all the way through. It’s not just lobbying. We’ll ask them questions about things. If you’re going to have a weak window somewhere, would you rather have it in a single-header window or would you rather have it in a regional window? We try to get their input on things so we know exactly what they prefer if there are options and choices. Sometimes there aren’t. We’ll ask a lot of hypothetical questions that may not even come into play.

> On what he does during the season: Now that we’re finished, we’re going to go back and look at how we might have changed this year’s schedule if we had the cross-flex as an opportunity [where some NFC games that usually are on Fox will be on CBS]. We’ve got this year and next year to learn as much as we can about how best to use cross-flex. Our work isn’t done. … We’re going to model a schedule as though we had cross-flex at our disposal and see what that looks like. There are some computer changes we’re going to try and make. We’ll have our computer partners working on that software modification right away.

— John Ourand

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