NFL plans more night games

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To bolster declining ratings for Monday Night Football and protect strong
cable viewership for Sunday-night games, National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue said
the league will likely schedule more than one game during those time periods.

"In the current television universe,
having only one game in a time slot is a problem," Tagliabue told the Federal
Communications Bar Wednesday.

"In the old days when you had a 24-0 game, so what? Today, if it's
14-0 -- bing, the fans are out of there," he added.

On Sunday, the answer might be to have games in every time slot, he
said.

That would mean more games at night, with the later ones skewed toward West Coast
teams.

Despite declining broadcast ratings brought on by the proliferation of cable
channels, the NFL retains clear strengths, Tagliabue noted.

The ratings crunch poses a problem for teams because they receive their
revenue from TV contracts -- roughly $80 million each year per team.

Despite diminished ratings, broadcast games rank somewhere between the fifth- and seventh-rated shows each week.

During the 1970s, ratings were much higher, as they were for all broadcast TV,
but NFL games didn't rank in the top 20.

Additionally, broadcast games
remain the top ratings draw in home teams' local market.

The league won't sacrifice long-standing commitments, home-game attendance or
broadcast TV just to bolster TV revenue, he said.

Blackout rules barring broadcasts into a home team's market unless the game
is sold out will stay on the books.

Additionally, Sunday Night Football, now carried on
ESPN, will continue to be simulcast on participating teams' local
stations.

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