Starting this fall, the NFL‘s 4:15 PM Sunday games will start at 4:25 PM, the league announced today. The move is designed to reduce the number of instances when stations have to cut away from the final minutes of the earlier game in order to show the later one. Fox and CBS alternate carrying the Sunday afternoon games. While Fox has a cushion built into its primetime schedule, which includes a post-game show and comedy repeats from 7-8 PM, CBS’ lineup starts at 7 PM with 60 Minutes. The start of its primetime always gets delayed when the network carries the late NFL game — nine weeks out of the 17-week regular NFL season — leading to late starts for all of its Sunday programs. I hear NFL floated the idea of the kickoff time shift to CBS a few weeks ago.
The network has been already looking into contingencies to adjust to the change that will push the start of its Sunday primetime lineup even further back. Last season, CBS’ primetime delay on nights with a late game was about 27 minutes on average. It will likely increase this coming season. One possible scenario that the network is looking at is changing its listings for Sunday night when following a game to have 60 Minutes start at 7:15 PM. That would reduce the wait for viewers of CBS’ Sunday series, which would start closer to their announced times. The kickoff time change may lead to an extra episode of CBS’ 10 PM series getting pre-empted. For the past couple of seasons, that was CSI: Miami, this fall it will be The Mentalist.