Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Daytime major network sports telecasts on weekdays

The typical timeslots for national sports telecasts on the major over-the-air networks are weekends, holidays, and prime time. It is relatively rare for TV networks to show daytime sports programming on weekdays when a sizable portion of the potential audience is at work or in school. But this does occur on occasion and here is a sport-by-sport historical summary of my research of such telecasts.

For the purposes of this post, I am only considering telecasts on the major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox) and I am excluding major holidays.

MLB

From 1947-1970, all weekday World Series games were televised in the afternoon. NBC also aired two weekday afternoon games in 1971 sandwiched around the first prime time World Series telecast. The last weekday afternoon World Series telecast took place in 1972 when rain impacted the original weekday prime time schedule and NBC carried the rescheduled game 5 on a Friday afternoon.

Since 1969, most postseasons have featured at least one League Championship Series game on network TV on a weekday afternoon. The exceptions are:
  • 1975 (regional weeknight coverage in prime time)
  • 1994 (no postseason)
  • 1995 (regional weeknight coverage in prime time via the ill-fated Baseball Network)
  • 2002 and 2005 (both years, Fox would have televised a weekday afternoon game had one series not ended early) 
  • 2007 (all Fox LCS telecasts were at night)
The 1981 divisional playoff round also included some weekday afternoon network telecasts. And, in 2001, Fox televised three League Division Series games on weekday afternoons.

Major networks also provided weekday afternoon coverage of the tie-breaker series in 1951, 1959 and 1962 and tie-breaker games in 1978 and 1980.

From 1949-1966, every MLB All-Star game was televised on a weekday afternoon. The same was true of the 1969 game which was rescheduled on a Wednesday afternoon following a rainout the previous night.

College basketball

From 1991 to the present, CBS has presented afternoon coverage of the opening Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament.

On Friday Dec 31 in 2010, CBS televised an afternoon regular season game.

College football

Starting with 1973, the major networks have provided one or more afternoon telecasts annually on "Black Friday" - the day after Thanksgiving. Also, during the bowl season, networks have often televised weekday afternoon games on dates such as Dec 31 and Jan 2.

NFL

For many years, the NFL avoided playing any games on Christmas Day. When the holiday fell on a Sunday, this policy resulted in Monday afternoon Dec 26 telecasts of the NFL Championship game on NBC in both 1955 and 1960. In 1977, CBS televised a divisional playoff doubleheader on Monday Dec 26. CBS also aired a wild-card playoff game on Monday Dec 26 in both 1983 and 1988.

CBS televised an afternoon regular season game on Friday Dec 31 in 1993. Fox provided afternoon telecasts on Friday Dec 24 in both 1999 and 2004.

Golf

Going back to 1996, NBC has annually televised 2 hours in the late afternoon of the Thursday and Friday rounds of the US Open.

CBS provided Friday afternoon coverage of the Masters in 1956 and 1957.

Major networks added Monday afternoon coverage of 18-hole playoffs for:
  • the Masters in 1962, 1966 and 1970
  • the US Open in 1965, 1966, 1971, 1975, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2001, and 2008
  • the PGA Championship in 1961 and 1967
and of Monday finishes due to rain for:
  • the Masters in 1961, 1973 and 1983
  • the US Open in 1983 and 2009
  • the British Open in 1988
  • the PGA Championship in 1976, 1986, and 2005
Tennis

For several years, CBS has televised Friday afternoon action during the second week of the US Open. Since 2008, CBS has also provided a late afternoon telecast of the men's finals on Monday. From 2008-2011, rain necessitated the Monday finish. Since 2012, the tournament has been scheduled to conclude on Monday.

Similarly, NBC has carried daytime weekday coverage for many years during the second week of the French Open tournament although much of that action has been on tape delay. NBC did the same for Wimbledon when it held the network TV rights.

NHL

NBC televised the 2012 Winter Classic on Monday afternoon Jan 2 as New Year's Day fell on a Sunday.

Auto racing

The 1997 Indianapolis 500 was postponed by rain on both Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend. It was rescheduled for Tuesday May 27 and ABC provided a daytime telecast of the race.

Note: The 2012 Daytona 500 was postponed by rain on Sunday and Fox had planned to televised the rescheduled event on Monday Feb 27 at noon. However, additional rain caused the race to be pushed back to Monday night so the Fox telecast wound up in prime time.

Olympics


The major networks holding the rights have made a habit of devoting many daytime weekday hours to both the Summer and Winter Olympic games.

Summary

Several of these examples involve special circumstances such as rain postponements, tie-breakers, or events taking place on the day before/after a major holiday. The yearly staples which still wind up on "regular" daytime weekday TV are:
  • NCAA Tournament opening Thursday and Friday afternoon sessions
  • US Open golf Thursday and Friday rounds
  • some action from the second week of tennis majors
  • usually at least one game of the MLB LCS

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