NFL Scheduling Guidelines

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE — Many times during the NFL season, we receive calls and emails about the way games are scheduled and how they air. We thought an explanation of some of the guidelines governing broadcasting NFL games might be helpful. Hopefully, this will answer some of your questions about game assignments and the process used.

  • The rules are crafted between the NFL and networks which carry the games (FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network). Local affiliates (i.e. WITI-TV) have little control in the process – and are sometimes at the mercy of the decisions made on-the-fly by the network.
  • Because Milwaukee is considered a home market for the Green Bay Packers (along with Green Bay), we are guaranteed to show all of the Packers games that are broadcast by FOX. If the Packers are the late game in a double-header, and the early game is running long, the network will cut away from it to show all of the Packers game – even if that means viewers miss a great ending.
  • Just because FOX has games in both the noon and 3:25pm slots, does not mean we can air two games every week. The networks (generally) alternate doubleheader weeks. Sometimes we can air two, sometimes we can’t. FOX usually has at least one late game each week because of the west coast home NFC games in Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean we can always air them. It’s not our choice – it is league and network rules.
  • For non-primetime games between teams in different conferences, the network of the visiting team usually gets the rights. That’s why WITI may have the Packers games played at an AFC location, and CBS may have Green Bay games that host an AFC team.
  • The local stations have no control over the flexible scheduling. The NFL may decide to change games to give NBC a more attractive game in its Sunday night time slot. Games may also move between the early and late doubleheader slots, or even between FOX and CBS. Thursday and Monday night games do not change.
  • FOX and the NFL may opt to change WITI’s broadcast away from “blowout” games to more competitive games being played at the same time. Again, we do not have local control over these decisions.
  • While there are few preseason games on network television, the rights to the majority of preseason games are sold by the teams to stations of their choosing. The rules described above generally don’t apply to the preseason.

For additional information, contact the FOX Sports Help Center at

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.