Does the NFL even care about fans of the NFC West anymore? Looking at the 2008 schedule, it would be easy to say, emphatically, NO!
Next season, fans of the NFC West have only four opportunities to see those teams on television in prime time. That is, either the Sunday night game on NBC or Monday Night Football on ESPN. Oh, and it also includes those few late-season Thursday night games. And they have only four of those ALL SEASON: one Monday night game (SF at ARI, Nov. 10), and three Sunday night games (SEA at TB, Oct. 19; SEA at SF, Oct. 26; NE at SEA, Dec. 7). No division plays fewer games in prime time.
Analyzed one step further and you see that the Seahawks get three, the 49ers get two and the Cardinals get one. Where are the Rams? Actually, the Rams were one of five teams which will not appear in prime time next season. The others being the Chiefs, Dolphins, Falcons and Lions. Suppose those franchises and their fans now know what the NFL and the networks think of their prospects next season?
Conversely, the NFC East will play a league-high 17 games in prime time, including almost half of the their 12 divisional games. Reportedly, it’s a hellacious gauntlet for the networks to schedule these games. Their motivation: to earn the most advertising bang for their buck, so they chose teams from huge media markets they can bank on. I mean, who can argue against the money New York City, Philadelphia, D.C. and Dallas can attract? Apparently not the NFL or the networks, which have just collectively ignored fans and advertisers in San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix/Glendale and St. Louis.
Yeah, the New York Giants are the Super Bowl champs and the East had two other playoff teams last season, but the disparity between the two divisions clearly illustrates the kind of biased mathematics the NFL is choosing to use in its marketing scheme for next season — that the fans and advertisers on the East Coast are more valuable than those on the West Coast, at a ratio of more than 4-to-1.