Tom Brady of the Buccaneers looks for an open recipient in the red zone during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp on August 4, 2020 at the AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa, Florida.
Cliff Welch | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
With Covid-19 setting athletics on fire in college, the National Football League could try to change its schedule to include Saturday games, maybe even Friday competitions, but there is one obstacle – US law.
Chapter 32 of Title 15 of the United States Code states that the NFL is prohibited from broadcasting its content on Friday evenings after 6 p.m. or "every Saturday," as high school and college football games typically occupy these fall days / time slots.
The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 was passed to allow sports organizations, including the NFL, to exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act, allowing leagues to bundle their teams' content rights and sell those rights to television stations.
The bill, introduced by New York MP Emanuel Celler and signed by President John F. Kennedy in September 1961, resulted in the NFL's first major deal with CBS in 1962 for approximately $ 4.6 million.
The 1961 Sports Act also included provisions protecting high school and college football games. The law states that the NFL may not show any games "during the period beginning on the second Friday in September and ending on the second Saturday in December of each year from a television station located within seventy-five miles of the intercollegiate venue or interscholastic soccer competition scheduled to be played. "
Since the Big Ten and Pac-12 were the first of the Power Five conferences at which the football season was postponed due to Covid-19, the NFL is said to have examined moving games on Saturday and perhaps also on Friday.
Mike Arthur, senior vice president of Veritone, who advises the Big Ten on advertising and content licensing, also mentioned that sooner or later TV networks will call once they know exactly what's going on with college football.
The NFL currently has media rights deals with major networks like CBS, NBC, and Fox that raise more than $ 5 billion annually.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post also reported that the NFL might need a Wavier to broadcast games on Saturdays, but also noted that the league would be "suspicious of damaging their relationship with college football".
Although the Big Ten and Pac-12 played it safe, the Southeastern Conference, which generated $ 721 million in revenue in 2019, the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 are still planning football seasons for the time being.
Also, the NFL would have to be approved by the National Football League Players Association, and there were no preliminary talks.
The NFL didn't return calls from CNBC for comment.
The NFL, which canceled its preseason because of Covid-19, is slated to open its 2020 season on NBC on September 10, when the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs welcomes the Houston Texans.
Disclosure: NBC Sports, which the parent company NBCUniversal shares with CNBC, broadcasts NFL games.