The NFL on Monday announced that the 49ers and Raiders were switching TV networks for their final games of the season.
The 49ers game Sunday at Levi’s Stadium against the St. Louis Rams moves away from its scheduled home on FOX-TV (KTVU, Channel 2) to be aired on CBS (KPIX, Channel 5). And the Raiders’ season finale at the Kansas City Chiefs will be shown on FOX. Both games are scheduled to kick off at 1:25 p.m.
The NFL adjusted the Week 17 schedule to give fans an opportunity to see as many games with playoff implications as possible across CBS and FOX in both time slots (morning and afternoon games) leading into the Minnesota-Green Bay game on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The Sunday night game is the only winner-take-all game in the final week of the season. The winner of that games earns the NFC North title.
It is likely the NFL wanted the Chiefs and Denver Broncos playing on different networks at the same time because both teams are battling for the AFC West crown. The Broncos would clinch the division title with a victory at home against the San Diego Chargers. Kansas City would win the division with a victory over the Raiders and a Denver loss.
Because the Raiders’ game against Kansas City is being moved to FOX, that forced a corresponding shift of the 49ers to CBS in order to have the Bay Area teams playing on different networks.
FOX lost what would have been a strong TV draw from the Minnesota-Green Bay game moving to Sunday night. But the network picked up the Raiders-Kansas City game while moving a less-desirable 49ers-Rams game to CBS.
While it’s entirely possible FOX picked up a better game to compensate for losing the only winner-take-all game on the schedule, it also looks as if the NFL is trying to accomplish its goal of delivering as many games with playoff implications to the widest possible television audience.