NFL uses flex to maintain flexbility
The NFL’s decision to flex the Dec. 22 Ravens-Patriots game out of prime time for Eagles-Bears initially caused much head-scratching, until Sports Business Journal reported it was driven by an arcane TV contract provision.
It turns out the gap between games taken from CBS and Fox for prime time windows in any given season may not exceed three. If Ravens-Patriots had remained at night, CBS’s total games lost to prime time showings on NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network for 2013 would have been 25 to Fox’s 22.
By making the shift, CBS is at 24 and Fox at 23, which gives the league maximum flexibility in its choices for which game to flex into prime time for Week 17.