The NFL can usually draw higher ratings than any other TV event, but league officials knew better than to contend with this weekend's New Year's Eve parties and cancelled "Sunday Night Football" on Dec. 31.
It's not just the impending holiday that has the league rearranging their schedule. They've been making efforts to schedule important, high stakes games in a certain order to hold the attention of fans. This Sunday will see the last games of the season, and usually they reserve the last Sunday night spot for games with playoff implications for at least one of the teams playing.
This year, they didn't have any games left that had high enough stakes for the coveted Sunday night spot, so they decided to scrap it.
Still, fans won't be left completely high and dry this week. There will be seven games scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, and nine games at 4:25 p.m. By 8:30 p.m., the NFL figures everyone will be at a party getting ready for the ball to drop, so they're relinquishing their claim to the time slot
"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. windows," said Howard Katz, the NFL's broadcasting chief, in a prepared statement.
All of this week's games will be on Fox or CBS. The NFL made no comment about the lost broadcast for NBC and whether the network will be compensated.
NFL viewership is still suffering. Their ratings are down 9% from last year — which was already a historic low. However, unlike 2016, the league can't blame the presidential election for stealing focus this time around.