For the first time in a very long time, NBC Sunday Night Football isn't going to happen. The NFL has decided to cancel the final edition of Sunday Night Football for the 2017 season. This marks the first time the organization has canceled such a game since 2006. This time, there are several factors that weigh into the decision, but it no doubt has a lot to do with the fact that NFL football has taken a big hit in the ratings department this season. In any case, if you're looking to watch football on Sunday, your evening just freed up.
Aside from the potential ratings issues, this is the final week of the NFL regular season. While there are still playoff spots at stake and seeding to secure, many of the teams are locked into place and, with the scheduled games being what they are, there's a great chance that whatever teams were to play Sunday Night Football would be playing for nothing of any great significance. For that reason, the NFL has decided to just pull the plug. Here's what NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz said this in a statement about the decision to cancel the final Sunday Night Football game of the season.
"We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. ET windows. This ensures that we do not have a matchup on Sunday Night Football on New Year's Eve that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams."
The fact that the Sunday Night Football game that was going to be played may have no playoff implications would have surely impacted the ratings in a negative way. Much has been made of the NFL season this year, but the big story has been the fact that ratings, overall, not just for Sunday Night Football, have been in decline. Overall, the 2017 NFL regular season is down 9 percent from last year. That's significant. With that in mind, it makes sense to cancel Sunday Night Football this week.
It's also important to note that Sunday happens to be New Year's Eve. That means many people around the country will be doing something with their evening that won't revolve around watching a football game. All of the games are now going to be played in the 1 p.m. and the 4:25 p.m. time slots on Fox and CBS. According to Deadline, NBC, who normally airs Sunday Night Football, will air Dateline NBC and The Wall in place of the game. At the present time, it's unclear if the NFL will have to compensate the network for canceling the game.