Ravens-Steelers Is A Day Game Because NBC Wouldn’t Bump The Rockefeller Tree Lightning Ceremony

The NFL’s grasp on its season continued to slip on Monday, as a Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens was delayed a third time. And now the league has apparently lost a prime time television slot out to a really big tree.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed on Monday that the game would be moved from Tuesday night to Wednesday, an unprecedented decision in and of itself. But then things got even weirder: the game would be played at 3:40 in the afternoon.

It was a confusing call to say the least, though it does mean the turnaround for some potential Monday afternoon games to follow wouldn’t be as harsh, travel-wise. But eagle-eyed people online wondered if the game — which was to air on NBC on Thanksgiving night and remains with the network — was put in the afternoon because of the scheduled tree lightning ceremony the network planned to air in prime time.

And, indeed, Schefter reported on Monday night that NBC essentially picked a very lackluster tree over a beleaguered NFL game.

If there were ever a situation where television networks and their sway over the National Football League were more evident, it would take some searching to find it. It’s also worth noting that the NFL’s initial delay of the Thanksgiving game to Sunday would have put its kickoff past the traditional 1 p.m. start on the east coast, presumably so the game’s final minutes would still be happening after the other early games were over so NBC would get a late bump in ratings.

Now, thanks to a Christmas spectacular that simply cannot be moved, it will apparently compete with the likes of daytime soaps and, in some markets, Dr. Phil.