CBS to start Sunday shows half-hour later to accommodate NFL doubleheaders

CBS is adjusting the way it schedules its Sunday primetime shows on weekends where the network airs an NFL doubleheader.

Football season has always made the start times for “60 Minutes” and company rough estimates at best, but it’s become more of an issue in the age of DVRs, and particularly this season, due to the NFL shifting the start time for its Sunday late-afternoon games from 4:15 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. Two nights ago, all of CBS’ shows shifted nearly a half an hour, and as a result, that’s how CBS will officially schedule its shows for future doubleheader weekends.

CBS still has doubleheaders on September 16 and 23, October 7 and 21, November 4 and 18 and December 2, 16 and 30. On those nights, “60 Minutes” will officially start at 7:30, “Big Brother” or (after September 23) “The Amazing Race” at 8:30, “The Good Wife” at 9:30 and “The Mentalist” at 10:30. That means that, barring an incredibly long late game, if you set your DVR to record those shows, the whole show should record without needing padding.

This doesn’t solve every problem, as it’s only being done on the national doubleheader days, and many local markets frequently have their team playing the late game. (This is a big problem in New York, for instance, where the Jets and Giants almost never play at the same time, meaning one of them is always the late game.) CBS also has its “Eye-lert” system to alert you to when delays are happening, and now long they’ll be, but they’re of limited use if you won’t happen to be near your DVR that day.

Still, it’s a step in the right direction. FOX long ago accepted that it was madness to schedule shows in the 7 o’clock hour in fall and instead goes with its “The O.T.” overtime show that can be as long or as short as necessary to ensure that “The Simpsons” starts at 8. CBS executives have said in the past that their Sunday shows often do better on nights when they’re delayed by football, and that as a result saw no need to change anything. But when your customers are annoyed – even if it’s not enough of them to hurt the Nielsen number – it’s usually wise to do something about that.