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Monday, May 20, 2024

NFL’s Christmas Games Could Be Holding Up Schedule-Release Bonanza

  • An announcement on the 2024 slate was delayed a week from when it has typically been shared.
  • The likely reason: two Christmas contests, news of which broke in late March.
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Each of the past three years, the NFL has announced its schedule on May 12, which this year falls on a Sunday; teams were broadly expecting the schedule to drop this week. But this year will be different.

An internal league memo Tuesday from NFL’s EVP of media distribution, Hans Schroeder, confirmed that schedules will come out May 15 at 8 p.m. ET, according to Sports Business Journal.

Schroeder didn’t give a reason for the delay, SBJ reported, but the most obvious explanation is that the league is adding two Christmas games (after long maintaining that it wouldn’t schedule Christmas games if the holiday fell on a Tuesday or Wednesday, as it does this year). Working out those details—including which teams will play, putting them in a doubleheader the Saturday beforehand; deciding the next week’s schedule; and sorting out which media partners will broadcast the games—likely required significant coordination on a short time crunch, considering news of the additions broke in late March.

Another explanation could be that the NFL wants to turn the schedule release into a much bigger, multiday affair, ProFootballTalk suggests. Imagine something akin to Selection Sunday, but carried out over several days, with each game time slot presented on a different day. The NFL is adept at creating tentpoles and generating interest throughout the offseason, as best exemplified by the draft, and this could be another iteration of that goal.

Teams already know their matchups, but they still don’t know the order in which they’ll play those games, on which dates, or at what times. In recent years, team social media accounts have gotten creative with their schedule release announcements, including by jokingly telling rival fans to get a job. Last year, teams created a viral release format wherein players’ young children (or people on Broadway, in Nashville) unveiled opponents by trying to guess team identities based on their logo.

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