WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com
This blog started in November, 2005 when Howard Dean announced the 2008 Democratic Convention dates. At the time, I spent a lot of time explaining here and in other places why the choice of the late August dates was a great one. It put the GOP in a real bind, either forcing them to go before the Democrats, thereby breaking decades of tradition that allows the party in the White House to have their convention second, or to go after the Democrats in early September, starting on Labor Day, when people's thoughts turn to going back-to-school and other Fall events.
Well, one of those Fall events is potentially a major conflict for the GOP:
Although it's not official, indications are that the NFL would normally start its season on Thursday, September 4, on NBC.
The GOP is holding their convention from Sep 1-4, and the nominee normally gives his or her speech on Thursday evening, just after 10:00 EST. This is a big problem for NBC and the NFL. NBC pays a lot of money to show NFL games. But there's no way they would take the political heat and not show McCain's speech, and its unlikely the NFL would want to take the heat either. Yes, the speech would be available on the other networks, but the football game would attract a major audience, and the GOP, would, and appropriately so, raise a big stink.
There's talk that the NFL is quite aware of the issue, and is looking at alternatives. Here are some possibilities:
- Simplest is to start the season a week later, cutting the time before the Super Bowl to one week instead of two. Certainly doable.
- Start the game at 6:30 EST. NBC won't like this - they'll lose viewers on the west coast.
- Play the game on Wednesday (still up against the convention, but not a big deal) or Friday (the high schools will be mad)
- Give the game to ESPN or the NFL Network, and give NBC another game some other time. NBC won't be happy giving up the highly rated Kickoff Game, and there will still be football on against McCain's speech.
- Just don't have the Thursday night game at all this year.
All previous articles on convention dates can be found here.
Update: Yes it was preseason, but there is precedence for moving the games earlier. From July, 2000:
ABC News said yesterday that the National Football League had agreed to change the starting times of two Monday night preseason games, a decision that will allow the network to devote an hour of prime-time coverage each to the opening nights of the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
The network had earlier announced that it would not pre-empt the football games and would provide prime-time convention coverage on those nights -- Monday, July 31, when Republicans convene in Philadelphia, and Monday, Aug. 14, when Democrats gather in Los Angeles -- only during halftime.
David Westin, president of ABC News, said yesterday that network officials decided to approach the N.F.L. about helping them make room for the conventions after concluding that the lineup of speakers for the opening nights had considerable news value.
Mr. Westin said Robert A. Iger, president of ABC's parent, the Walt Disney Company, had taken a lead role in discussions with N.F.L. officials about how convention coverage might be accommodated. As a result, the games will start an hour earlier, at 7 p.m. rather than 8 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time, ABC officials said. That should allow convention coverage to start about 10 p.m.