Out of town Pats fans have been hit by a relative lack of coverage of the Patriots in their markets so far this year, but that comes to an abrupt change this weekend. As of this moment 185 out of 202 Fox affiliates are scheduled to broadcast the game between the Cowboys and Pats, which is probably as high a percentage as you will ever see when there is more than one game to choose from.
Fox only gets at most two chances to show the Patriots each year: the two games the Pats are at home against an NFC team. That number goes down if one or both of those non-conference games is played on Sunday, Monday or Thursday night, so it was a given that they would want to take advantage of the opportunity to broadcast a Pats game. Whether it is due to the number of Pats fans, Pats haters or both, the team has delivered consistently high ratings for television networks for a long time now. Add in the fact they are playing against Fox’ favorite NFC team, the Dallas Cowboys, and you had to know this matchup would get a lot of coverage. And with this weekend being a Fox doubleheader, it makes for the perfect storm of almost blanket coverage of the Pats on Sunday.
Trivia: in 1999 and 2003 when Dallas played the Patriots they were Sunday night games on espn. If I’m not mistaken that would mean that this is the first time that Fox will ever televise a Cowboys – Pats game.
Rather than list all the markets that will get the Pats game, I’ll just list the ones that will not get to see it as of right now instead.
Alexandria (WNTZ); Baton Rouge (WGMB); Lafayette (KADN); Lake Charles (KVHP); Monroe (KARD); New Orleans (WVUE)
Biloxi (WXXV); Columbus (WLOV); Greenville (WABG); Jackson (WDBD); Meridian (WGBC)
Mobile (WALA); Montgomery (WCOV)
Tallahassee (WTLH); Panama City (WPGX)
All of the above will be airing the New Orleans at Tampa Bay game. In addition two other Fox stations – WBFF in Baltimore, and KTVU in San Francisco – will have no late game at all due to the idiotic NFL rule that no other game can be on regular TV when the local team is playing at home and has sold out.
Two caveats: the current listing is for what is scheduled at this point in time. Stations can, and do change to another game during the week. So it is possible that some stations in NFC South territory, for example, might opt for the Saints-Bucs rather than the Cowboys-Pats. WFTX in Fort Myers is one station, for example, that not could flip – I expect that they will. Stations in Georgia and North Carolina might do the same thing, but are far less likely to do so.
The other caveat is that Fox is expecting the Buccaneers to not sell out, and therefore Tampa and Orlando would not be able to broadcast that game due to blackout rules. However, if they do indeed sell out then they would have no choice but to broadcast their local team rather than the Pats game.
Broadcaster for the Cowboys game will be Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman; no Joe Buck because he will be the commentator for a baseball playoff game.
The early Fox game shown in New England will be Philadelphia at Washington; announcers are Sam Rosen and Brian Billick. The early game on CBS in New England (and most of the country) is the Bills at the Giants, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms as the announcers.
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