January 8, 2007
I keep getting e-mailed Sunday night ratings handicaps that talk about the NFL overrun at 7-7:30, or even 7-7:45ish–on Sunday nights.
I've used it myself, sucked in by the smooth-talking network communicators earning their seven-figure salaries and their Villas on the French Riviera. The closest I'll ever get is french kissing in a Buick Riviera.
Back when NFL Sunday afternoon games began at 4, their occasional, or more than occasional, spill-over into prime, which begins at 7, was fairly referred to as an "overrun," or in the case of the "Heidi" game, "a visceral violation of all that we as football fans hold sacred."
But, now, I think we need to stop calling these "overruns."
What used to be the Sunday late game and is now the "middle game"–now begins at 4:30, which ensures that A) the games don't cannibalize each other from 4 to 4:30, and B) the last half hour of the game invariably falls in the first half hour of prime so that whichever net has the contest usually gets a nice boost in that first half hour of prime–to juice the Nielsen average–and into the rest of its schedule for the night.
No game lasts 2 and a half hours unless it is the Tivo Bowl. We all need to get real and concede that the half hour of NFL games between 7 and 7:30 is a regularly, cannily scheduled block of programming.
But hey, maybe it's just me.
By John Eggerton