NFL flex scheduling explained

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NFL broadcasts are one of the most-watched shows in the USA. Photo from Bowling Green State.

If you need NFL flex scheduling explained, stay where you are. Few things drive casual fans as crazy as the NFL flex schedule, which can change the time of games and confuse fans. While there is a method to this madness, there are NFL flexing rules to know about and a lot of questions about NFL flex scheduling that need to be explained and answered.

NFL flex scheduling explained

Let’s try to clear up the confusion by going over the basics of NFL flex scheduling.

What does flexing mean in the NFL?

In the NFL, flexing essentially means moving any game that was scheduled for Sunday afternoon to the Sunday night time slot. This means that rather than airing on either CBS or Fox, the game will be placed in primetime with NBC broadcasting it. Of course, the NFL schedule is released with Sunday Night Football games already on the schedule. But with the NFL’s flexing rules, they can move that Sunday Night Football game to the afternoon and have another game take its place, just as long as the teams and ticket holders are given advanced notice.

Flex scheduling is a practice that the NFL has used since 2006. It’s a way that the league can highlight certain games, especially if the season doesn’t unfold as expected. The catch is that there are a lot of moving parts because the NFL has to talk with CBS, Fox, and NBC about changing their broadcast schedules if they want to swap the timing of two different games.

Why do NFL games get flexed?

The NFL chooses to flex games because the league wants to put the best games in the primetime spot on Sunday Night Football. If there is a marquee game that a vast majority of NFL fans will want to watch, the league may not want it to air regionally or while other games are being played. Thus, they will flex the game to put it in primetime for the whole country to see.

The practice of flex scheduling is more common late in the season when the playoff race heats up.

Technically, the league can do it any time after Week 5. But it tends to happen later in the season. After all, the NFL doesn’t want to put a game in primetime if neither team is a serious playoff contender; that’s not going to get as many viewers as a game between two teams in playoff contention. The idea is to maximize views as much as possible for the Sunday Night Football game every week.

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Can the NFL flex any game?

The NFL can only flex games that are scheduled for Sunday afternoon. That means every game scheduled for Thursday, Saturday, or Monday can’t be moved.

But any game that’s scheduled to play on Sunday can be flexed into the primetime spot on Sunday Night Football while any game originally scheduled for Sunday Night Football can be flexed out of that time slot and played during on Sunday afternoon instead.

Why NFL schedules get changed

As mentioned, the idea behind flex scheduling is for the NFL to maximize viewership in primetime and put its best foot forward.

Most weeks, the Sunday Night Football game will be the most viewed game of the week. Therefore, there is an incentive for the NFL to put the best possible game in that slot to attract more viewers.

The NFL also wants to put its best games on national television to guarantee that all fans can watch the game. If a game is played on Sunday afternoon, it might only be available regionally, so flexing a game to national TV on Sunday night allows more fans to watch it.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 220 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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