I can’t recommend enough listening to this podcast today from former NFL player and current announce Ross Tucker discussing how the league makes up its schedule with Michael North, the NFL’s director of broadcasting (and HT to Chris Cluff of Examiner.com for writing about this earlier today).
As North explains, it’s a complicated process that pretty much leaves none of the 32 teams completely happy.
“It’s truly an exercise in futility,” North said.
Of most interest to local fans is what he has to say about Seattle’s schedule, particularly the fact that it features just one prime time home games. North says the competitiveness of Seattle home games is a factor, as it is in any game that gets placed marquee TV slots.
But he also makes it clear it’s a little more complicated than the league simply being “wary” of putting Seattle home games in prime time (and interesting that he notes that players, and especially coaches, prefer the 1 p.m. games, meaning that in some ways, it could be argued the schedule makers helped the Seahawks a bit competitively).
“For Howard Katz (NFL senior VP and lead schedule maker) to look at the Seahawks’ schedule and think to himself, ‘Oh, I’m wary of that particular game in a national window where it could be noncompetitive,’ does it enter into his thought process? Absolutely,” North said.
But North noted that they seriously thought about putting the Seattle-49er Thanksgiving game in Seattle (as he says, that was the only night game the 49ers could have played at home all season) and also thought about putting the Arizona prime time game in Seattle.
He said what fans may be missing is that the 1 p.m. Pacific Time/4 p.m. Eastern Time TV slot is actually the most-watched that the NFL has and that the Seahawks have a number of marquee home games in that schedule, notably against Denver, Dallas and the Giants.
“To think we are wary of putting Seattle at home on national television is clearly not the case,” he said. “Because look at all of the Seattle home games that are in the national doubleheader window on CBS and FOX that is our highest-rated window.”
He also said the NFL doesn’t feel that Seattle is unbeatable, saying “that’s crazy” and noting that Arizona won at CenturyLink late in the season and that Tampa Bay “had them on the ropes.”
It’s about a 30-minute podcast, and there’s lots of non-Seattle stuff (the Seahawk-related questions are mostly in the second half) and overall it gives really good insight into the process.