Master NFL TV Coverage Maps: Find Every Game

Navigating NFL TV coverage maps can be as tricky as a quarterback reading a blitz. They’re the key to unlocking which games you’ll get on your local channels each Sunday. Whether you’re rooting for your hometown heroes or following a team from across the country, understanding these maps is crucial.

They don’t just decide if you’ll be cheering or groaning come game time; they’re a window into the complex world of broadcasting rights and regional preferences. In this article, they’ll dive into the ins and outs of NFL TV coverage maps, ensuring you never miss a snap from your favorite team.

From the nuances of network selections to the reasons behind blackout restrictions, they’ll cover what every fan needs to know. Stay tuned to become a pro at predicting the play of the day—what game will be on where you live.

What Are NFL TV Coverage Maps?

NFL TV coverage maps are the tools that clearly outline which NFL games will be broadcasted in different parts of the country. These maps break down geographical regions to show the distribution of games across various networks, primarily CBS and FOX. Each network has rights to different games, and the coverage maps reflect the complex agreements and viewer demographics they target.

The primary purpose of these maps is to let viewers know what games they can expect to see on their local TV channels on game day. For instance, someone living in Denver might see the Broncos play frequently, but that same person might not have access to watch the Miami Dolphins, unless they play against the Broncos or are featured in a national broadcast.

  • NFL TV coverage maps are updated weekly.
  • They are essential for die-hard football fans.
  • They also serve as a valuable tool for marketers to target specific regions.

Broadly speaking, coverage maps are influenced by several factors:

  • The popularity of teams within specific regions.
  • The market size and viewer preferences of an area.
  • Exclusive broadcasting rights held by networks.
  • National interest games that are widely broadcasted.

Tools like 506sports are popular sources for accessing the current week’s TV coverage maps. Fans often consult these maps to plan their viewing schedule, especially if they support out-of-market teams.

It’s important to remember that coverage maps are subject to change. Last-minute adjustments are sometimes made for various reasons, including changes in the broadcasting schedule or to accommodate for the NFL’s flexible scheduling policy. These adjustments can frustrate fans eager to follow their favorite teams, making it even more critical to check the coverage maps close to game day.

Networks also adhere to NFL blackout policies, which were designed to encourage stadium attendance but have seen a reduction in use in recent years. Blackout restrictions can sometimes shift a game to a different channel or off the local broadcast entirely, affecting the coverage map for that week.

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In an era where consumers have more viewing options than ever, NFL TV coverage maps remain a key tool for navigating broadcast schedules and understanding the intricacies of NFL game distribution in local markets.

How Do NFL TV Coverage Maps Work?

NFL TV coverage maps are a complex system determined by agreements between the NFL, broadcasters, and affiliates. These maps indicate which games are televised in different regions of the U.S. every Sunday during the football season. Here’s how the system operates.

Network contracts play a pivotal role. The NFL has contracts with several networks like CBS and FOX, dictating how many games they can show in each market. Typically, one network gets the rights to doubleheaders (two consecutive games), while the other will show a single game.

The home market has a significant impact on coverage. The local team’s game is always broadcasted within the home market, ensuring fans can watch their team. This is a cornerstone of the coverage map philosophy, maintaining a strong local following and fan engagement.

Moreover, viewer preferences are considered, with popular teams often broadcasted more widely. The networks use ratings data and market research to decide which matchups to show. Bigger matchups with high-stakes implications or rivalries are likely to be broadcasted across a larger number of markets.

Additionally, regional interests shape the coverage. Some areas may have a preference for teams from nearby states, or historical connections to certain teams, and the coverage maps reflect these connections.

Timing is another key factor. Early afternoon games are typically regional, while late afternoon games have a wider broadcast distribution. The Sunday night, Monday night, and Thursday night games are national broadcasts and are the exception to these coverage maps.

Sometimes, coverage maps can be impacted by the NFL’s blackout policy, though this has become less common in recent years. If a home game isn’t sold out, it might not be broadcasted locally, a rule designed to encourage stadium attendance.

506sports and other services update their coverage maps typically by the middle of the week, which gives fans enough time to make plans to watch the games that interest them the most. These sources are a go-to for fans seeking to find out which games they will have access to each week.

Understanding Network Selections

When diving into the intricacies of NFL TV coverage maps, it’s vital to grasp how network selections play a role. Networks such as CBS and FOX hold contracts that give them the rights to broadcast certain NFL games. But what dictates the network’s choice on any given Sunday?

CBS typically airs AFC games while FOX deals with the NFC matchups. Yet, it’s not that straightforward. Cross-flex policies can alter this setup, allowing networks to air games outside their usual conference when a particular game has wider interest or when trying to balance the schedule.

The process of selection usually follows a straightforward pattern. Networks first consider the match’s potential for high viewership. They give preference to games featuring teams with large fan bases or those located in heavily populated markets. This strategy maximizes advertising revenue, a crucial objective for networks. Additionally, marquee matchups with playoff implications or historic rivalries are often chosen due to their mass appeal.

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In terms of regional coverage, networks aim to cater to local audiences by airing games of their home teams. This ensures the retention of viewership within local markets. If multiple games are scheduled simultaneously, the networks distribute them based on regional popularity and national interest. The timing of the games plays another vital role. Prime slots, such as late Sunday afternoon, are reserved for games with the widest appeal.

Savvy viewers who understand these selection principles use them to anticipate the games that might be aired in their region. They know that a highly anticipated inter-conference clash has a good chance of being broadcasted widely, while a less significant game between two low-ranking teams may be limited to the local markets of the teams involved.

The selection process is dynamic and subject to weekly evaluation. Networks closely monitor team performance, standings, and fan interest as the season progresses, adjusting their selections to match the ever-changing landscape of the NFL. This adaptability ensures that the offerings on television are consistently engaging and relevant for football fans across the nation.

The Impact of Blackout Restrictions

Blackout restrictions have long been a controversial aspect of NFL broadcast rules. They’re designed to encourage ticket sales by preventing a game from being televised locally if it’s not sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff. These regulations play a pivotal role in shaping TV coverage maps and can significantly affect viewership.

Local fans might find themselves unable to watch their home team if the game is blacked out, pushing networks to juggle their schedules. This can result in less popular games being broadcast in markets affected by blackouts, impacting ratings and advertising revenue. It’s a delicate balance for the NFL and networks to maintain, mindful of both fan experience and financial implications.

The NFL modified its blackout policy in 2015, making blackouts rare, but not completely extinct. If a game does face a blackout, networks may scramble to fill slots with other attractive matchups. However, this adjustment underscores the networks’ flexibility and quick response to shifting circumstances.

Fans have adapted to blackout restrictions by seeking alternative methods to view games, from sports bars to streaming services. Conversely, the threat of a blackout can drive ticket sales as fans may prefer to experience the game live rather than miss it altogether.

NFL TV coverage maps are carefully configured taking into account the likelihood of blackouts. These considerations ensure that audience engagement remains high, even in regions where blackouts might affect the potential viewership.

Moreover, the NFL’s distribution of games is influenced by the anticipation of potential blackouts, with games that have lower risks of not selling out being more likely to be broadcast widely. In areas with high fan engagement and sell-out crowds, blackout restrictions are less of a concern, providing networks with a safe bet for strong viewership figures.

With the evolution of media consumption and the availability of live sports across various platforms, blackout restrictions continue to be a factor for the NFL to reconcile as they navigate the complexities of modern broadcasting.

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Tips for Navigating NFL TV Coverage Maps

Navigating NFL TV coverage maps requires a bit of strategy and know-how. For viewers looking to catch every pass, tackle, and touchdown, understanding these maps can make all the difference.

Check Multiple Sources
Coverage maps can differ between providers. Fans should not rely on a single source but instead cross-reference coverage maps from various networks like CBS and FOX. Each network has its own website and app where maps are routinely updated.

Know the Schedule
Staying informed about the NFL schedule is crucial. Sunday afternoon games are shared between CBS and FOX, which alternate possession of a doubleheader each week. Reviewing each network’s schedule can offer insights into potential broadcast patterns and which games to expect.

Use Online Tools
Numerous websites and apps exist that offer weekly NFL TV coverage maps. These tools can break down geographic broadcast regions and provide early indications of which matchups will be shown in specific areas. Fans should bookmark a trusted site that updates these maps regularly.

Consider Market Size
Larger markets often have more pull in terms of broadcasting more popular or local games. If you’re in a smaller market, be prepared that the game coverage may be influenced by nearby larger cities’ preferences.

Seek Alternative Viewing Methods
If a desired game isn’t being broadcast in a viewer’s area, they may want to explore other options. NFL Sunday Ticket, streaming services with live TV options, and local sports bars can be a fallback. Remember that blackout restrictions may still apply, so looking into these rules for the chosen alternative platform is important.

Staying enthused and engaged as an NFL fan sometimes means playing the game off the field. By using these tips to understand and navigate NFL TV coverage maps, fans can gain more control over their viewing experiences and ensure they never miss a critical play.


Navigating NFL TV coverage maps doesn’t have to be a challenge. By staying informed and utilizing the right tools, fans can take control of their viewing experiences. Whether it’s checking multiple sources for the most accurate maps, understanding network schedules, or exploring alternative viewing methods, there’s a solution for every NFL enthusiast. Remember, with a bit of research and planning, you’ll never have to miss another exciting moment of the season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find NFL TV coverage maps?

You can find NFL TV coverage maps on various online platforms such as the network’s official websites or sports news sites. Always cross-reference multiple sources for the most accurate information.

When should I check the NFL TV coverage maps?

It’s best to check the coverage maps shortly after the NFL schedule release each week, as the networks determine the broadcasts based on the games’ appeal and market size.

Why do coverage maps differ between providers?

Coverage maps differ due to agreements between the NFL and networks, which are influenced by the size of markets, team popularity, and regional preferences.

How can market size affect NFL game coverage?

Market size can affect coverage because networks aim to broadcast games that will attract the largest number of viewers. Therefore, bigger markets often get priority for more popular or local games.

What should I do if a game isn’t broadcast in my area?

If your game isn’t broadcast locally, consider alternative viewing methods like subscribing to NFL Sunday Ticket, using streaming services, or watching at a local sports bar.

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