When you are a fan of a particular NFL team and don’t live in that city’s local viewing area, you really only have these choices for being able to watch your favorite team play on TV:
- Hope that your team is playing in one of the weekly nationally-televised games (Sunday night football, Monday Night Football, one of those Thanksgiving games, or that random Thursday or Saturday night game that gets national coverage)
- Hope that your local FOX or CBS affiliate is carrying the national 4p game that week in a double-header and that your team is in it
- Get DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket, so you can pay more money than you should just to watch that one game every week
- Go to the local smoke-filled sports bar and watch the game on one of the bar’s big screens… and if you’re lucky you’ll get the game audio instead of having to watch it with closed captions
- Watch the game later on a replay aired on the NFL Network
- Follow along online via nfl.com’s game stats/scoreboard page
Or you have the most common option: rely on your local CBS or FOX affiliate to decide which games they’re going to air in their markets. The worst part is that they don’t have to make that decision until late in the week preceding the game date.
But at least there is one option for you regarding knowing when to stay home to watch the game on local TV versus heading out to the sports bar or your friend’s house who shelled out for DirecTV, and that’s to check the NFL TELEVISED DISTRIBUTION MAPS, updated weekly.
The NFL has assigned major TV markets as either a “primary” or “secondary” market. The home team’s city is always a primary, getting television coverage even at the expense of having to cut away from other games that have gone into exciting overtimes. The secondary market cities get assigned teams that should, in theory, contain a reasonable amount of fans for that team. Bangor, Maine, for example, is close enough to New York to be shown New York Jets games.
The local affiliates do have the option of overriding the NFL’s assigned secondary games if those games have more local interest than the originals.
The color-coded maps on this site give you a great overview of exactly where in the country your favorite team may be airing for any given week As the season goes along, you can even mark trends of how popular (or unpopular) a team may be based on how much coverage for your team changes.
If you’re a football fan, this site should definitely be on the top of your weekly website visit list.