Week 17 of the NFL season is always must-see television, as the league consistently produces important match-ups with playoff implications. The 2017 edition is no different but, in a huge change, the NFL will roll along without a game in prime-time and it will be the first time in 40 years.
The league announced the decision late on Sunday evening and senior VP of broadcasting Howard Katz provided the following rationale for the decision.
“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. ET windows. This ensures that we do not have a matchup on ‘Sunday Night Football’ on New Year’s Eve that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams.”
It does make sense that the league would want high-profile match-ups taking place at the same time, especially from a competitive balance standpoint. However, it is impossible to ignore that the league might want to avoid Sunday night this week for a different reason, as it also happens to fall on Dec. 31 and in line with a lot of folks around the country leaving home to celebrate the new year.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if this acts as precedent but, for now, football fans can plan to finish their viewing early this time around.