The NFL Is Literally Canceling ‘Sunday Night Football’ This Week

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“Sunday Night Football” has called a timeout on this week’s regular-season game.

With the NFL’s “Sunday Night Football” in a ratings falloff, the playoff picture getting clearer, and it being New Year’s Eve and all, the league is bowing to the inevitable and canceling the event.

The league slipped the news in a tweet:

The NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting, Howard Katz, said games with playoff implications will all be played either at 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. ET because it was “fair” to the fans.

Clearly, the NFL is hoping to create buzz around the games to increase ratings at the earlier times to get what will be called a ratings win.

The league’s Sunday night ratings spiral was likely to take a horrible hit if the nighttime game had been played.

CNN reports that the last time the league scheduled a game for New Year’s Eve, ratings plummeted 25 percent:

The last time the NFL held a Sunday night football game on New Year’s Eve was in 2006, when the Chicago Bears hosted the Green Bay Packers. It was quarterback Brett Favre’s last game with the Packers (and widely expected to be his last game ever). Still, only 13.4 million people watched that game, about a quarter fewer than the average Sunday Night Football game that season.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The NFL has suffered from a self-inflicted wound over its handling of the protests during the national anthem by some of its players, and Sunday night ratings have taken the brunt of the backlash by fans.

The ratings for the December 15 “Sunday Night Football” game were down 35 percent from last year at this time. CNN reports that NFL ratings on ESPN that same weekend were down 9 percent and were down 27 percent on CBS. Meanwhile, Fox saw a 6 percent improvement in its ratings. Overall, NFL ratings have seen a 9 percent hit on the season.

CNN reports that the rescheduling means that NBC is stuck on the sidelines for this week’s games.

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