Because the trade ready for an NFL season unlike any other previous to final month’s kickoff, many had assumed that in some unspecified time in the future in the course of the yr, the schedule could be disrupted after league gamers, coaches or staffers examined optimistic for Covid-19.

Whereas the primary three weeks of the season went off with out a hitch, the league has formally delayed its first sport because of the pandemic. The Week 4 matchup between Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers, set for Sunday, has been postponed to “later this season,” after a number of Titans gamers and staffers examined optimistic, the NFL stated right now.

4 Titans gamers and 5 crew personnel members had examined optimistic earlier this week, which precipitated the crew facility to be shut down as a part of the league’s security protocols. The league had initially deliberate to delay the Titans-Steelers sport till simply Monday or Tuesday, “to permit further time for additional every day Covid-19 testing.”

However following further optimistic Titans exams (one participant and one personnel member), the sport was formally rescheduled. “An announcement of the brand new sport date will likely be made shortly,” the NFL stated in a press release.

No members of the Minnesota Vikings, who performed the Titans final Sunday, have examined optimistic.

The Titans-Steelers sport had been scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS, the place 16% of the nation would have been capable of see that matchup, based on the community. CBS has redistributed different 1 p.m. video games into these markets; most will get both the Baltimore Ravens-Washington Soccer Group or Los Angeles Chargers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers sport as a substitute.

Whereas struggling networks welcomed the NFL’s return final yr, and the $5 billion ad revenue lifeline it offered them, most execs and entrepreneurs anticipated some form of Covid-related schedule disruption in some unspecified time in the future in the course of the season.

However additionally they knew that the NFL would have much less of the pitfalls which have precipitated a number of MLB video games to be postponed resulting from optimistic Covid-19 exams. NFL groups will solely play one sport per week, which suggests much less journey and fewer likelihood of potential coronavirus publicity.

“We’ve got a rising sense of confidence that whereas actually there’s very more likely to be some form of disruptions, that the NFL appears absolutely dedicated to taking part in a season. And with their skill to regulate the schedule, and even when there are matchups that must get canceled, they’ll have sufficient matchups to fill a weekend, that TV home windows in all probability received’t be missed,” David Campanelli, co-chief funding officer, Horizon Media, advised Adweek last month.

All the networks carrying NFL video games had pressured flexibility of their negotiations with shoppers, within the occasions that video games have been canceled or postponed. “Ought to video games get canceled, we’d work with shoppers to mutually conform to re-express {dollars} elsewhere within the CBS portfolio,” John Bogusz, evp, sports activities gross sales and advertising and marketing, CBS Community gross sales, additionally advised Adweek final month. “But when the video games are actually canceled, they do have the suitable to take their {dollars} again.”

A number of media firms whose backside traces have been decimated in the course of the pandemic, largely due to the dearth of reside sports activities, have been relying on the NFL to assist them rebound on the finish of the yr.

In spite of everything, final season the NFL generated an estimated $4.6 billion in national TV ad revenue, based on Kantar Media: $3.3 billion within the common season and a further $1.3 billion within the playoffs and Tremendous Bowl. That’s greater than double the nationwide TV advert income final season from the NBA, MLB and NHL mixed ($2 billion).