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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

NFL’s Next Big Moment Underway As the 2024 Schedule (Slowly) Releases

  • A rematch of the Ravens-Chiefs playoff game will begin the league’s 2024 regular season.
  • The league is extending its strategy of heightening anticipation for the full schedule reveal.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s hype machine for the 2024 schedule release is now hitting high gear. 

The league confirmed Monday the expected plans to unveil the full slate of games for the upcoming season May 15 with a three-hour prime-time special on the NFL Network. If that weren’t enough, that effort will be joined by supplemental schedule-oriented coverage on the NFL Network and YouTube before and after that event, and NFL+ will have a “Secrets of the Schedule” special diving further into the construction of the game slate. 

ESPN, meanwhile, will have its own two-hour prime-time special on the NFL schedule airing on ESPN2 and ESPN+. 

Similar to recent years, the NFL will continue its practice of expanding the schedule release into a multiday extravaganza, itself one of the most notable manifestations of the league’s increasingly dominant status in not only sports but also U.S. culture more broadly. That initiative began early Monday when NBC Sports’ lead announcer Mike Tirico announced the season-opening game—an AFC championship game rematch between the Chiefs and Ravens—on the Today show, and then continued to tout the network’s NFL coverage at NBCUniversal’s upfront pitch in New York to advertisers.

Each of the other major U.S. media networks will also be holding its 2024 upfront presentations to advertisers this week, and those with NFL broadcast rights will similarly be using the schedule release as a prominent element of their respective pitches. Over the next two days, each of the domestic media partners will announce a key ’24 game on their network, while the full set of international games is also slated for an early release—with each announcement designed to raise anticipation for Wednesday night. 

For NBC Sports, the upcoming season will carry noteworthy weekends at either end of the schedule. The first week will feature games Sept. 5, 6, and 8, when including the NFL’s first regular-season contest in Brazil, to be shown on Peacock. The network, meanwhile, also announced Monday that it picked up an additional regular-season game Dec. 21, with that game helping form NBC’s first set of Saturday and Sunday games for Week 16 since 1997. The teams that will be involved in that Dec. 21 game are also set to play again on Christmas—with those games expected to go to Netflix

Ratings Boost?

The matchup of the Ravens and Chiefs on Sept. 5 to kick off the 2024 season, meanwhile, has been a likely outcome ever since Kansas City wrapped up its second straight Super Bowl title in February. But the showcase involving the two marquee franchises, as well as star quarterbacks Lamar Jackson (above) and Patrick Mahomes (winners of four of the last six NFL MVP awards), provides a heightened potential for a strong ratings start for the season.

The NFL used a similar strategy last year, when banner viewership for Lions-Chiefs to begin the season helped fuel what ultimately became an across-the-board sweep of ratings increases.

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