Who knew the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers players were such big Christmas tree lighting fans?
The Ravens and Steelers will play at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday to accommodate the regularly scheduled airing of “Christmas in Rockefeller Center,” the celebrity-dotted, two-hour show for a two-second switch flip on Christmas tree lights.
The Ravens-Steelers game has been rescheduled three times because of the Ravens’ COVID-19 outbreak and the NFL had to acquiesce to NBC on this one. An NFL game, particularly a popular rivalry game, would fare better in television ratings than a holiday special but NBC had advertisers specifically lined up for the 8 p.m. EST primetime programming and spends big money on a lineup with Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge, the Goo Goo Dolls, Tori Kelly, Dolly Parton and Meghan Trainor.
Last year’s tree lighting show drew 6.9 million live network viewers, while last week’s lowest-rated NFL game drew 12.6 million cable viewers on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
The NFL will take a hit on advertising revenue and television ratings on this one, but the early start time is nothing unusual in 2020, when NBA playoff games in “The Bubble” were even played on the West Coast in the afternoon.
But before anybody gets too worked up about a Norway spruce towering in precedence over the NFL, how confident are we that this game is even going to be played at that time? The Ravens have 19 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list and Pro Football Talk reported the remaining Ravens players might refuse to play.