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NFL pushes back start time for doubleheader games

Updated: June 28, 2012 2:19PM

NEW YORK — Tim Tebow was leading the Broncos on yet another improbable last-minute comeback, and fans in New York, Dallas and other football-mad markets didn’t get to see the end.

The NFL announced a scheduling change Thursday aimed at preventing such moments. The league is shifting the start time of the second game of its Sunday TV doubleheaders by 10 minutes to ensure fewer fans miss any of the action on the field.

The late afternoon matchups on CBS and Fox will kick off at 3:25 p.m. (Central Time) instead of 3:15. Late games not on that week’s doubleheader network will still start at 3:05.

Only one Bears game will be affected by the time change—Sunday, Dec. 23 at the Arizona Cardinals will move to 3:25 p.m. on FOX.

Because of the networks’ contractual obligations, fans in the past would sometimes miss the end of the early telecast or the beginning of the late one if the 1 p.m. game ran long. The broadcasters must switch to the start of the second game in the home teams’ cities even if the day’s first televised contest is still going on. For fans in other markets, that overlap means they don’t get to see the opening of the late game.

During the 2009-11 seasons, 44 games lasted long enough to require part of the audience to be switched. Under the 3:25 kickoff, that number would have been reduced to 15.

On Dec. 4, Denver beat the Minnesota Vikings on a field goal as time expired on Fox, the Broncos’ fifth straight win as Tebow-mania swept the country. The game ended at 3:19 p.m., so hometown fans of the Packers, Giants, Cowboys, Cardinals, Rams and 49ers — whose teams played in the 3:15 game — missed the final seconds.

NBC said it would not change the way it produces its Sunday night pregame show, which starts at 6 p.m.

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