The Dallas Cowboys are a ratings draw. Water is wet. Gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared. All of these are objective and non-negotiable facts.
We see the first truth unfold every year when the NFL releases its schedule and this year is no different. Of their 17 games the Cowboys will be on primetime six times, have their annual Thanksgiving Day game, which is not primetime but is the biggest island game there is, and only appear in the early Sunday window twice (assuming the Week 18 game doesn’t land there).
The Cowboys, quite frankly, are good for business. Whether they are successful or not, people are going to tune in and watch. Due to how in-demand the Cowboys are though, television networks often run into wrestling matches of sorts to get a share of the proverbial pie.
Consider that Dallas plays on primetime networks NBC and ESPN at least twice each (three times total for NBC) in 2023, I am running out of ways to tell you that anybody who has a vested interest here wants to be connected to America’s Team.
It appears that FOX really wanted the Cowboys game in Buffalo and had it at a higher priority than even the Cowboys games against the Eagles
Traditional broadcast lines have dictated that (for the most part) NFC games are on FOX while AFC games are on CBS. If you were unaware, when opposing conferences meet the broadcast rights have belonged to the road team (Dallas in Pittsburgh was on FOX as an example).
These lines no longer exist in their old form, but that did not lead to a massive change the way many (myself included) thought that it might. Consider that the Cowboys are on CBS just twice (against the New York Jets and on Thanksgiving Day which in itself is massive as noted) and on FOX a colossal eight times, including four in a row from out of the bye and into Turkey Day.
Simply put the Cowboys are a crown jewel for FOX which is why we are so well-accustomed to their number one team. It appears that the network really prioritized a certain Cowboys game, the road trip to play the Buffalo Bills that is only guaranteed to happen once every eight years. It is again important to note that while this game would have traditionally been a FOX property that guarantee no longer existed here in 2023.
FOX made sure to make it a top priority, according to FOX’s Mike Mulvill in a recent write up at The Athletic.
“When we look at our ranking of the top 50 games on the leaguewide schedule, the two that we had ranked the highest that ended up with us were Dallas-Philly and Dallas-Buffalo,” Mulvihill said. “In the case of Dallas-Philly, in the new contract, we’re guaranteed one end of every divisional home and home. So we think a little bit differently about Dallas-Philly than we think about Dallas-Buffalo, where we only have one opportunity to get that matchup, so we ranked Dallas-Buffalo a little more highly. Those are two super, super, high-priority games for us.”
Mulvill states here that FOX is guaranteed one end of the division rivalries as they pertain to the NFC East which means that they are secured one round of Cowboys/Eagles. Their network has the Dallas game in Philadelphia in Week 9, but the matchup at AT&T Stadium between the teams in Week 14 is on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
While primetime is still primetime, especially when the Cowboys are involved, the afternoon games have become diamonds as far as rating numbers are concerned. The same article at The Athletic noted the top games from last season that excluded Thanksgiving:
Here were the five most-watched NFL regular-season games in 2022, excluding Thanksgiving:
1. Cowboys-Packers, Week 10 (29.2 million viewers on Fox)
2. Eagles-Cowboys, Week 16 (27.8 million viewers on Fox)
3. Cowboys-Vikings, Week 11 (27.7 million viewers on CBS)
4. Cowboys-Bengals, Week 2 (27.4 million viewers on CBS)
5. Packers-Buccaneers, Week 3 (26.4 million viewers on Fox)
All five of these games took place in the afternoon window (4:25pm ET kickoff) and as you can see the Cowboys are extremely well-represented. Given this information and that FOX had one Cowboys/Eagles game already in the bag, it makes total sense for them to have wanted the Bills game as another opportunity to ride the wave.
Putting all of this together it makes that the Cowboys are in afternoon windows eight times this season no surprise at all, six of which are on FOX specifically.
It pays to be in touch with the Dallas Cowboys. America’s Team. For now. For always.