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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

NFL’s Christmas Shake-Up: Netflix and Amazon Will Take It Over in ’25

  • The streamer will carry two Christmas Day game broadcasts this year.
  • More new media partners could be on the way in the future.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Netflix winning the rights to two Christmas Day NFL games this season marks the addition of yet another new media partner for the league, which just began fresh rights deals worth a combined $110 billion last year. The streamer will pay $150 million for the two holiday broadcasts, per The Wall Street Journal, and also acquired the rights to one Christmas Day game in 2025 and ’26.

Next year, Christmas falls on a Thursday. Netflix will air a game in the afternoon before Amazon gets a prime-time showcase as part of its Thursday Night Football package, Hans Schroeder, the league’s executive vice president of media distribution, confirmed on a call with reporters. 

This is the new-age NFL, where anything goes, if the price is right. Schroeder said the league’s plans these days is to “keep some of our inventory to deploy strategically,” which has been buoyed by greater flexibility in this new set of media-rights deals. “In the old deals, almost every game started as part of one of the two packages on Sunday afternoon and then we had to pull them out,” he said. “With [these] new deals, there’s still a commitment we have to Fox and CBS that their packages feel like an NFC package and AFC package, but we have much greater flexibility with how we schedule games.”

So, by all indications, the NFL is open for business moving forward, even if that means longtime media partners get fewer and fewer game broadcasts. “They know we’re going to continue to work and make sure we deliver great schedules to them and have a great partnership with each of them, but also add our partners where we think it makes sense,” Schroeder said.

New Normal: Quick Turnarounds

Another wrinkle of the 2024 NFL schedule will be more teams playing multiple games on short rest, thanks to relaxed restrictions that went into effect last year. This fall, 13 teams will play two games with only three days of rest (i.e., game on Sunday, off the next three days, and then play again on Thursday), whether that be a combination of TNF games, Thanksgiving Day matchups, and Christmas Day games.

“At the end of the day, it makes the national television schedule stronger,” said Mike North, the NFL’s vice president of broadcast planning. That has resulted in what North called Amazon Prime Video’s strongest TNF schedule yet.

“If you think about partners like NBC and ESPN, the strength of their package is the really top-tier teams multiple times in a year,” said North, noting Amazon didn’t have that luxury the previous two seasons. “I’m not sure we’re gonna be consistently at five or six teams twice each on Amazon; that might be a bridge too far, year after year.”

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