Monday, February 15, 2016

History of TV scheduling for Super Bowl rematches

In the 2016 regular season, the Denver Broncos will host the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. This marks only the 7th time that a regular season rematch of the prior Super Bowl has occurred. The NFL schedule will be revealed this spring and presumably this rematch will get prominent TV placement.

But this leads to a few questions... Where has the NFL placed the previous Super Bowl rematches on its TV schedule? How frequently have such rematches been aired in prime time?

Here is a summary of how the previous six Super Bowl rematches were scheduled for TV purposes (all times ET):


In the first year after merging with the AFL to form a 26-team league, the NFL kicked off its 1970 regular season with a rematch of Super Bowl 4 as the Chiefs and Vikings squared off in Minnesota. NBC assigned its top crew of Curt Gowdy and Kyle Rote to this matchup which was the featured 4 pm doubleheader game on opening Sunday.


The next such game was a Super Bowl 11 rematch between the Vikings and Raiders in Oakland during week 13 of 1977. This game was the primary 4 pm Sunday doubleheader game on CBS with Vin Scully and Alex Hawkins in the booth. This is the only time a Super Bowl rematch was not covered by the top broadcasting crew of the network airing the game. CBS sent its #1 team of Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier to call a Saturday game that weekend. At that time, CBS and NBC aired national Saturday afternoon games late in the season.


Two years later, the Cowboys faced the Steelers in Pittsburgh in a rematch of Super Bowl 13. The game was in week 9 on CBS which had the doubleheader that day. However, the NFL scheduled this game at 1 pm making it the only rematch played in the early Sunday afternoon window. CBS did assign Summerall and Brookshier to handle that telecast in a rare case where the #1 crew called an early game when its network had the doubleheader.


In week 2 of 1993, the Cowboys hosted the Bills in a rematch of Super Bowl 27. NBC featured it as the main 4 pm doubleheader game with its #1 team of Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy on the call. So far, this is the only rematch on the same network that had televised the prior Super Bowl. Enberg and Trumpy were in the booth for that game as well.


The NFL scheduled the Super Bowl 31 rematch between the Packers and Patriots in Foxboro for Monday Night Football in week 9 of 1997. Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, and Dan Dierdorf had the announcing duties that night on ABC at 9 pm. In an odd twist, a stadium conflict with the Florida Marlins (who hosted World Series game 7 on Sunday) caused the NFL to move the Bears-Dolphins game from Sunday afternoon to Monday night. That game started also started at 9 pm and ABC televised it to Chicago and Miami. So while Packers-Patriots is the only Super Bowl rematch thus far to be played in prime time, it wasn't televised to the entire country.


The most recent game on this list took place in week 3 of 2014 when the Broncos traveled to Seattle to face the Seahawks in a rematch of Super Bowl 48 - some 17 years after the last rematch. CBS assigned its #1 crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to this contest and spotlighted it as the main 4:25 pm doubleheader game.

Summary notes

  • Of the six Super Bowl rematches so far, four were scheduled as the primary late Sunday afternoon doubleheader game. Only one has been scheduled for prime time (Monday night) while the other game was the main early Sunday game on the doubleheader network.
  • Because of the circumstances surrounding the 1997 Monday night game, none of the rematches has been a full national telecast. 
  • From a calendar standpoint, three games took place in September, two were scheduled in late October, and one was played in December.
  • Only one rematch was not called by a network's #1 announcer crew.
  • No TV announcer has called more than one Super Bowl rematch - a streak that will continue if Fox gets the 2016 matchup). 
  • Super Bowl rematches have been rarer than expected. Using a basic probability model and assuming random chance, I calculated that the expected number of such rematches since the 1970 merger would be 12, but the 2016 game will only be the 7th. 


  1. who fact checks these things? The Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl rematch took place in Week 3, not week 13

    1. It was a typo. Thanks for spotting the error. Fixed now.

  2. The 2016 NFL scheduled called for the Denver Broncos (the defending champs) to host the Carolina Panthers (the Super Bowl runner-ups) during the season.

    Because it's NFL tradition for the defending champions to host the first game of the following season, the league decided to have the Denver/Carolina game open thew 2016 NFL season.

    The 2017 NFL schedule hasn't been announced yet (March 27th), but the New England Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in a Super Bowl rematch in Foxboro, Massachusetts sometime during the season.

    I would be very stunned if the league doesn't make this Super Bowl rematch the first game of the 2017 season on Thursday night, September 7th.

    That would mean two consecutive years that the NFL season would open with a Super Bowl rematch.