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October 6, 2015

Did the flex schedule boomerang on the NBC football game?

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 7th 2009 4:15PM
tom_brady_nflAbout 18 million or so folks tuned in to NBC's Sunday Night Football Game last night, the Minnesota Vikings versus the Arizona Cardinals. That's a really good number, but it wasn't the boffo bonanza NBC had in mind when they used the NFL flex schedule option to choose Bret Favre over Tom Brady.

When I wrote about the flex schedule last week, a lot of reader comments said that NBC decision made perfect sense because the Vikings-Card game would be a bigger draw than the Patriots-Dolphins.

Well, guess what happened? The Favre game turned out to be a bust. The Cardinals, led by Kurt Warner, shredded the Vikings and won handily 30-17. It wasn't close and the ratings diminished from the second half on.

On the other hand, the Brady game was terrific -- especially if you were rooting for the Dolphins as I was. But the game was competitive all the way through, Brady threw for over 300 yards and three long TD bombs, and the Fins kicked a winning field goal with time left on the clock. Brady had the ball and could have moved his team in for a score with a minute to play, but he was rushed in the pocket and threw and interception instead. Believe me when I tell you that nobody turned off that game before the very end.

The point is that NBC might have thought they were doing the right thing with the flex schedule, but in retrospect, if they had held the cards dealt to them, they could have done better.

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I agree with Matt. The writer of this post is engaging in some Monday Morning Quarterbacking. There is no way to know which will turn out to be the actual best game beforehand. You make a decision based on the best available information you have and go with it. Sometimes it wont work out for the best, sometimes it will.
In my opinion, the Vikes and the Cards were stronger teams than the Dolphins or the Patriots, so that would have been the game I would have chosen to watch. They made a good decision that just didnt pan out this time. Thats the nature of the game. You just have to deal with the results, good or bad. The flex schedule is a good concept but it can never be perfect.

December 08 2009 at 7:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Except is wasn't really NBC's decision to make. The NFL expressly states on its website that it controls all scheduling decisions, and will only "consult" with the networks when it comes to flex games. So it was actually the NFL that thought Cards-Vikings would be a top-tier matchup and didn't get much of a ratings bump. Maybe the premise should be "Did the NFL flex the right game?" That would be more accurate to the reality of the scenario.

December 07 2009 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian B

That just goes to show how awfully biased the NFL is towards Bret Favre. This switch never made sense to me, as the Dolphins/Patriots was always a more important game. But as soon as they could (almost 1.5 weeks before), they moved Favre/God into the primetime slot. Well done, NFL!

December 07 2009 at 10:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pierre-Luc Allie

Can someone tell Brady that he can use Moss in BOTH half?

December 07 2009 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Brady definitely did not throw 3 TDs...Kevin Faulk ran one in

December 07 2009 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bart Smith

Maybe it didn't pay out this week, but if you look at the whole season, I'm sure they do better overall by having the flex option rather than being stuck with a schedule determined before the season starts.

December 07 2009 at 7:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Agreeing with Matt, on paper this should have been a shoot out and a ratings winner. I'm a Cards fan and even into the fourth quarter I was waiting for a Vikings comeback to make it close, regardless of the first half of play. Glad the Cards played to their potential.

December 07 2009 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's the risk in being able to pick the games. Never going to pick them perfect.

December 07 2009 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The game of the week turned out to be the Saints vs the Redskins.

Who'd a thought!

December 07 2009 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment

The premise behind this post is a little ridiculous because essentially what you're saying is that NBC needs to predict what will be the better game ahead of time.

On paper, a matchup of two division leaders should have been the better game, especially when one of those teams had the second-best record in the NFL. (I'm a Vikings fan, but let's face it, guys, even if it was a 13-point game, the Cards easily controlled every aspect of the game after Minnesota scored its first touchdown.)

But you know what they say: "On any given Sunday ... "

December 07 2009 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A 13-point win is hardly a "thrashing." Hell, the Saints scored 10 points in the last 90 seconds yesterday.

" ... the ratings diminished from the second half on."

When do they usually diminish? The third or fourth half?

December 07 2009 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jim's comment

If it's a blow out, usually the start of the fourth quarter is a ratings bust. If it's a close game, ratings increase through the end of the game.

December 07 2009 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Cards owned the Vikes in that game. It wasn't close.

December 07 2009 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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