In a report on Saturday from ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, the NFL is exploring the option of holding some of their games on Saturdays if there is no college football in 2020. According to Florio’s source, the NFL is willing to move several games each week to Saturday in order to fill the content void.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL likely will move games from Sundays to Saturday, if college football doesn’t proceed this season. It’s unclear whether the games would be broadcast, streamed, or distributed on a pay-per-view basis, but the league likely would backfill the vacant Saturday windows with NFL content.
Ideally, adding more games which are nationally televised each weekend would be beneficial to fans, many of which will not be able to attend games due to reduced capacity. With as many as three games moving into a Saturday time slot much like what is expected in Wildcard Weekend of the expanded 2021 playoffs, the likelihood of fans who are out of market of their favorite teams could increase their ability to view games.
As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan living outside of the regional viewing area, a change in the scheduling of games could bring the Steelers to my television set much more frequently. If another AFC North team, particularly the Baltimore Ravens, get moved into one of the Saturday slots, the likelihood of the Steelers being available in my area goes through the roof.
Unfortunately, the NFL has not announced any plans to increase the availability for fan viewership for 2020 as some have speculated. With the ability to watch every game only available through Sunday Ticket offered by DIRECTV, those who do not do not use that particular service are not able to purchase a package to watch every game. With many TV programming providers offering different packages during the COVID-19 pandemic, including NFL.com offering NFL Game Pass for free through the end of August, many had hoped the NFL would be able to expand the chance for fans to see their favorite team in action during the 2020 season.
Not only does the NFL have to worry about how they are presenting games to fans in 2020, they would also have to seek an antitrust exemption in order to televise games on Saturdays this fall. According to Florio, the league must act quickly if they are going to be able to make the necessary adjustments to bring NFL football to fans four days out of the week.
There’s another wrinkle that would have to be addressed, quickly. The league would need a one-year dispensation from the broadcast antitrust exemption, which allows the NFL to sell TV rights in a league-wide bundle but prevents the NFL from televising games on Friday or Saturday from Labor Day through early December.
The entire notion of no college football in 2020 was ramped up recently when the MAC became the first FBS conference to cancel it’s fall season. According to Dennis Dodge of CBSSports.com, there are some athletic directors from NCAA power five conferences who feel college football will not be played this fall.
For those fans who enjoy their NCAA football on Saturdays, the thought of losing the 2020 season could be heartbreaking. While the possibility still remains college football could be played in the spring, it’s hard to say how well college sports will be able to rebound if played on a different schedule.
When it comes to the NFL, if they are able to hold their 2020 season, the opportunity to watch more games each week is something which could help fans fill the void left by the NCAA.
As for me, the more football I can watch, the better.