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NFL Announces New Playoff Game Times

The starting times of this year's conference championship games will be revised to make those national telecasts available to a wider audience, the NFL announced Thursday.

To significantly expand the potential audience, the AFC and NFC Championship Games on Sunday, January 19 will start at 3:00 PM ET and 6:30 PM ET. These games had begun at 12:30 PM ET and 4:00 PM ET in previous years.

In addition, the Sunday wild card and divisional playoff games will start at 1:00 PM ET and 4:30 PM ET. Previously, these games had begun at 12:30 PM ET and 4:00 PM ET.

Last year, the NFL for the first time moved playoff games into prime time. The late Saturday Wild Card and Divisional playoff games moved to an 8:00 PM ET start time.

The 2002 season playoff schedule will be as follows:

Saturday, January 4, 2003

4:30 PM ET - AFC or NFC Wild Card Playoff (ABC)

8:00 PM ET - AFC or NFC Wild Card Playoff (ABC)

**Sunday, January 5, 2003

1:00 PM ET - AFC Wild Card Playoff (CBS)

4:30 PM ET - NFC Wild Card Playoff (FOX)**

Saturday, January 11, 2003

4:30 PM ET - AFC Divisional Playoff (CBS)

8:00 PM ET - NFC Divisional Playoff (FOX)

**Sunday, January 12, 2003

1:00 PM ET - NFC Divisional Playoff (FOX)

4:30 PM ET - AFC Divisional Playoff (CBS)

Sunday, January 19, 2003

3:00 PM ET - NFC Championship Game (FOX)

6:30 PM ET - AFC Championship Game (CBS)**

(Boldface indicates new start time for this season.)

"Our primetime Saturday playoff games were well-received last year," NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE said. "The changes put in place for this season will further expand our potential audience for the playoffs."

Last year's Jets-Raiders AFC Wildcard Playoff on ABC on Saturday, January 12 earned a 13.9 rating (22.0 million viewers) - the highest Saturday prime time rating on any network in two years. The Raiders-Patriots AFC Divisional Playoff on CBS on Saturday, January 19 garnered a 17.4 rating - a 47 percent rating increase (28.7 million viewers) over the previous year's AFC Divisional Playoff and the network's highest-rated Saturday prime time rating in seven years.

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