The question I've gotten more often this week than "Why do you like Ohio State?" (born and raised there, wife and sister went there, etc) has been: Why does the Seahawks-Packers NFC championship game begin at 12:05 p.m. Pacific Time while the East Coast Colts-Patriots game starts at 3:30 Pacific? Can't they just switch and put the later game in the later time zone?
While it may be inconvenient to your tailgating to begin it Sunday morning when you are usually sleeping, the NFL's multi-zillion television contracts with the networks mandate that CBS and Fox each get a prime-time conference title game alternating each year. It's predetermined that CBS, which broadcasts the AFC, gets the 6:30 p.m. kickoff this year. Next year, as last year with Seahawks-49ers, Fox will have the 6:30 p.m. kickoff for the NFC title game.
The league can't switch now, for the sake of time-zone convenience. CBS has already sold its advertising slots based on a primetime price; it's more expensive to air commercials on network television from 6:30-10 Eastern Time than 3-6:30, which is the time slot for which Fox sold its ads. If the AFC title game had been in New York, San Diego or Singapore, it still would kickoff at 3:30 Pacific Time. And the Seahawks would still be kicking off just after high noon.
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Sunnyside-up Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made a point on Monday of noting the kickoff time as an advantage for Seattle. Of course he did.
"I think it’s only fitting that they’re starting the game at 12:00. Worked really hard to negotiate that and finally got that done," Carroll deadpanned. "So hopefully our 12s will celebrate our 12 o’clock start – getting up early, getting prepared for the game.
"Anyway, we’re really excited about it."