Brett Favre’s arrival in Minnesota is likely going to cause some major adjustments for Vikings fans and we don’t just mean preparing to see the long-time Packers quarterback wearing purple. Although the Vikings’ schedule has been out since April, get ready for some game times to be changed now that Favre has arrived.
Currently 12 of the Vikings’ 16 games are slated for noon starts — a dream kickoff time for sportswriters — but Favre is considered a prime-time player and his presence will make the Vikings a ratings hit.
Let’s start with what we know.
Dan Bell, the vice president of communications for Fox Sports, said Wednesday that the Vikings’ first three games of the season will not be shifted from their scheduled starting time. That means games on Sept. 13 at Cleveland, Sept. 20 at Detroit and Sept. 27 against San Francisco at the Metrodome will kickoff at noon. Bell said the only difference is that Fox will look to increase the amount of the country that sees the Vikings’ play on those three Sundays.
The Vikings’ fifth game of the season will be the Oct. 5, Monday night matchup against Favre’s old team, the Green Bay Packers. ESPN has the rights to that game and locally it also will be aired on KSTP (Ch. 5). The ratings for that one will be through the roof and likely will set a cable record.
The other factor to keep in mind is the NBC flex schedule that will kick in for the Vikings beginning with their Nov. 15 game against the Lions at the Metrodome. The Vikings will be coming out of their bye week when they play Detroit. Their last game before the bye is scheduled to be at noon on Nov. 1 at Green Bay on Fox. You think that game won’t have national interest? (Don’t know if that is a doubleheader weekend for Fox but if it is don’t be surprised if that game gets pushed to a 3:15 p.m. start.)
NFL rules state that only three teams may make as many as six prime-time appearances during the course of a season. Right now, the Vikings are schedule for three night games. That includes the first Green Bay game, the Dec. 20 (Sunday night) game at Carolina and the Dec. 28 (Monday night) game at Chicago.
With Favre in the fold, NBC is certainly going to look at the possibility of getting at least one more Vikings game moved into the Sunday night slot. Here’s what the Vikings’ slate of games looks like during the flex portion of the schedule.
Nov. 15 vs. Detroit, noon, Fox
Nov. 22 vs. Seattle, noon, Fox
Nov. 29 vs. Chicago, noon, Fox
Dec. 6 at Arizona, 3:15 p.m., Fox
Dec. 13 vs. Cincinnati, noon, CBS
Dec. 20 at Carolina, 7:20 p.m., NBC
Dec. 28 at Chicago, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Jan. 3 vs. New York Giants, noon, Fox
My understanding of how this works is because the second Vikings-Bears matchup already is going to be played on Monday night, Fox can’t lose that Nov. 29 game at the Metrodome. Some of those second-half matchups might not look all that attractive but keep in mind that Favre has always been good for ratings (and thus business) in the television world. Thus, I fully expect Vikings fans will be staying up late more than three times this season.