Saturday Games Limited for NFL Due to Antitrust Laws

Before the NFL opted to return to late-season Saturdays, it was still a question as to why the NFL had abandoned games on those days.  Now that the NFL will return in 2014 to Saturday with a late-season double-header on December 20, it only seems fair to wonder why the NFL doesn’t play on Saturdays more often.

The answer comes from the league’s antitrust exemption.  Crafted by Congress in 1961 after a court decision determined that the practice of selling TV rights for the entire league violates antitrust laws, the Sports Broadcasting Act has a key caveat for the NFL — no games can be televised on Friday nights or Saturdays from the second Friday in September until the second Saturday in December.

By not playing on those Friday nights and Saturdays (in deference to high school and college football), the various NFL teams can bundle their TV rights, compelling a network that wants to televise the popular teams to also televise the unpopular teams.

The cost of parity, then, is to avoid Fridays and Saturdays from early September to early December.  It’s a small price to pay for a league in which every team has plausible hope in any given year to make it to the playoffs, and to win the Super Bowl.

For more on this story visit: Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk