NBC: 'Football' Break This Week

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" will take this week off as part of its annual move to avoid head-to-head competition with the second game of the World Series. But unlike last year, the network isn't using the three free prime-time hours to try to boost sampling for one of its new series.

A year ago, NBC ran three straight hours of reruns of the then-emerging freshman hit "Heroes." This time, it has slated the "The Bourne Supremacy" film from 8 p.m.-10:30 p.m., then a half-hour run of "Dateline." (It will continue with its "Football Night in America" show, normally a pre-game broadcast, in the 7 p.m. hour.)

One possible reason: to capitalize on corporate NBC Universal's cross-promotion. Universal Pictures' "The Bourne Ultimatum" is still in theaters, and viewers who catch "Supremacy"--the second in a trilogy starring Matt Damon--on Sunday on NBC may be prompted to head to the big screen--or at least buy the DVD, expected to be released in December.

Once "Sunday Night Football" resumes next week, it will occupy the night straight through to the end of the year. NBCU executives may want to utilize open real estate that may be not available later.

NBC also appears to be getting a break this year with the World Series schedule. In past years, when it extended to a seventh game, the winner-take-all event would air on a Sunday night. This time, such a move could have put it in competition with NBC's Dallas-Philadelphia game next week. But this year, a seventh game would be a week from tonight.

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