Vikings get flexed … to different channel

The Vikings and Bears both have losing records and therefore are pawns in the TV game to get more intriguing matchups for a national audience. Their Week 11 game will be on CBS now.

Just as Thanksgiving will get overrun by Christmas, it’s November in the NFL, which can only mean one thing – the flex schedule is in play and what used to be viewed as important is being brushed aside for the good of the business.

Under the rules of flex scheduling, games can be moved into more profitable spots. A scheduled early Sunday game can be flexed into a nationally televised late Sunday afternoon game if it is a game that would likely draw a lot of national interest. If the matchup is especially juicy, it can be traded out for the Sunday night game, much to the delight of NBC.

It would appear the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears are the equivalent to a player to be named later in a baseball trade.

Two games were altered for the Week 11 schedule when the Vikings return from their bye week. One of them was Green Bay-Philadelphia. The other was the Vikings and Bears.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers got moved from a noon ‘Sconny time start to 3:25 p.m. to indulge a national audience with two teams currently very much competing for an NFC entrant in the playoffs.

The Vikings and Bears?

Not so much, at least when it comes to potential Super Bowl competition.

The Vikings-Bears game Nov. 16 will still go off at noon flyover time at Soldier Field, but instead of being on FOX, the game will be moved to CBS, which is a rarity in the NFL.

Under the standard TV package rules, it’s pretty easy to determine which network will carry Sunday afternoon games. FOX owns the NFC TV package. CBS owns the AFC contract. Depending on who the road team is, that’s the network that carries the game. Typically, the Vikings would only play two games on CBS – the two games in which they’re hosting AFC teams (this year that would be the Patriots and Jets).

But part of the flex scheduling package allows such switches to take place. In the rules of flex scheduling, it says “a select number of games are going to be cross-flexed, moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences.”

As a result, the Vikings and Bears game Nov. 16, which should have been on FOX, will be carried on CBS.

Given that the Vikings currently have a losing record, it was thought that they wouldn’t get flexed out of their noon local times for all of their remaining games. While that will likely remain true for the rest of the schedule unless the Vikings get on a hot streak and get into playoff contention, they will be subject to the flex rules, just not the way that was expected.

Look for more games to start getting flexed in similar fashion. From Week 11-16, teams must be given at least 12 days notice that their games will be altered from the original scheduling plan. For Week 17, to assure a Sunday night game with playoff implications, teams will only be required to receive six days notice.

The NFL doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to maximizing its TV coverage, especially down the stretch of the regular season. But it would appear the Vikings and Bears are part of the process, just not the way they might hope.

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