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Report: NFL to abandon early-morning London experiment

04.10.2015. Wembley Stadium.  London, England. NFL International Series. Miami Dolphins versus New York Jets. The NFL logo on display in front of the Wembley Stadium. (Photo by Roland Harrison/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire)
(Roland Harrison/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire)

The NFL still plans to keep its London series going, but the attempt at utilizing four time slots on those Sundays appears to be set to end after this season.

Recent years have unearthed the 9:30 a.m. ET slot for NFL use, but the league is reportedly abandoning this experiment. According to Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal (via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio), the league is doing away with the four-time slot Sunday and will now return the London games to the usual early-game window they previously occupied.

Next season won’t bring any 12-hour football Sundays, with the 1 p.m., 4:25 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. ET windows again representing start times for the league. That’s been entrenched since Sunday night football emerged in 1987, and almost certainly due to ratings not being up to the NFL’s standard, the usual schedule will return full-time.

This removes a prime-time slot for the NFL in Asia, however, so American football fans on that continent will again be forced into late-night or early-morning viewings of the league’s games.

The league, though, will continue with the other recent — yet maligned — component of its schedule:  the weekly Thursday-night series. It has no plans, per Flint, to scrap the Thursday-night games despite rampant complaints from players about physical readiness for those contests. NFL ratings have declined across the board, though, this season. But the league remains committed to this new window, even if it’s ditching another failed venture.

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