The Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game has been rescheduled again, and that comes with implications for a further game. The Ravens were initially supposed to face the Steelers in a primetime game Thanksgiving night, but following large numbers of positive COVID-19 tests from Baltimore players and staffers, Wednesday saw the game rescheduled for Sunday afternoon (a move likely to cost NBC tens of millions of dollars from lower viewership and ad rates). And after further positive tests (including Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson, seen above in December 2019), Friday saw it rescheduled further, to Tuesday night. As per the NFL’s announcement, if it goes ahead then, that will also see the Dallas Cowboys’ game against the Ravens (set for next Thursday) moved to the following Monday:
— NFL (@NFL) November 27, 2020
If this does work out to play Ravens-Steelers Tuesday in primetime, that will actually boost NBC back up a bit. Yes, it’s not Thanksgiving night, and the viewership numbers likely won’t be as high as they would on the holiday, but broadcasting a game in primetime on a weeknight with no other NFL competition is significantly better than going head-to-head with windows from CBS and Fox (plus the Sunday Ticket options). And there’s going to be a fair bit of appeal for the 10-0 Steelers against the 6-4 Ravens.
That reschuedling has some further knock-on effects, though. It means Fox/NFL Network/Amazon don’t get a Thursday Night Football game this week, and they instead get a very early game next Monday (starting at 2 p.m. on the West Coast). That’s presumably done to limit the interference with ESPN’s Monday Night Football (which has the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers at 8:15 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 7), and that makes sense. But it’s a loss for Fox/NFLN/Amazon.
It’s unclear how the rescheduling will affect the broadcast lineups for Ravens-Steelers. Mike Tirico had originally been set to call Ravens-Steelers on Thanksgiving with Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya, but the shift to Sunday had Ravens-Steelers switched to Al Michaels (originally supposed to have the week off), Collinsworth and Tafoya, with Tirico, Dungy and Kathryn Tappen handling the Sunday night game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. If the game does go ahead Tuesday, we’ll see who NBC gets to call it.
[NFL on Twitter; photo from Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports]