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NFL Network temporarily suspended its live shows this week because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, marking the latest instance of a sports network that has been forced to change its programming during the outbreak.
The NFL is currently in its offseason, but the coronavirus outbreak has forced the widespread suspension of team activities and it has affected operations for the league’s media wing. NFL Network’s studio shows are filmed in Los Angeles and New York City, which are two hard-hit areas in which local officials have ordered non-essential employees to work remotely.
As a result, NFL Network has pulled live shows, such as “Good Morning Football,” which is filmed in New York, and “NFL Total Access,” which is filmed in California. On-air talent are providing video segments with key updates, such as free agent signings, from home in clips ranging from one minute to five minutes in length.
“In light of the latest updates and the directive from the Governor of California, we have shifted our coverage this week to a digital first approach which we can do remotely,” an NFL spokesperson told FOX Business by email. “We will continue to take advantage of our experts and insiders in the field who are staying on top of all the news and can file video reports using home cameras.”
To fill out its programming block, NFL Network is airing classic games from past seasons as well as original shows. It’s unclear when live studio shows could return to the air.
USA Today was first to report the programming changes.
The NFL is also offering free access to “NFL Game Pass,” a streaming service with a library that includes classic games, “NFL Films” specials and other original programming.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced nearly all U.S. sports leagues to suspend their regular seasons as a precautionary measure. Federal officials have recommended cancellation or postponement of mass gatherings, including live sporting events.
Sports networks such as ESPN have struggled to fill out their schedules without their usual slate of live games.
NFL free agency began as scheduled last week. However, league officials have suspended team activities, barred travel and ordered most employees to work from home.
The NFL Draft is expected to occur as scheduled in late April. However, the event will take place on a closed set without fans in attendance.