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Monday, May 27, 2024

NFL’s Schedule Points to Network Strategies: Chiefs Lead, Texans Rise

  • The two-time defending champions are a fixture across many of the league’s tentpole events.
  • The upcoming slate is optimized in many ways for more viewership growth.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s media partners have made no secret a big part of their plan to achieve more ratings growth in the 2024 season: ride the Chiefs as far as they’ll go. 

With Wednesday night’s release of the full, 272-game regular-season schedule, the two-time defending Super Bowl winners are playing perhaps an even bigger role among the various networks than what might have been expected for any other title winner. Kansas City will host the season-opening game on Sept. 5 against the Ravens, a previously announced matchup that maintains current NFL practice of beginning the season in the home stadium of the defending Super Bowl champion. 

But the Chiefs are a significant presence in many other tentpole parts of the schedule. Among the key dates for the team:

  • A high-profile Sept. 15 matchup against the Bengals that will be the first late-afternoon Sunday national game of the season for CBS. 
  • A Black Friday game against the Raiders. Amazon will again carry that game, and is aiming for a better result than last year’s somewhat-disappointing result for the debut edition with Jets-Dolphins.
  • A Saturday game on Dec. 21 against the Texans that is a newly added part of NBC Sports’ schedule and will be shown nationally. 
  • A Christmas Day game against the Steelers that is part of the much-anticipated entry of Netflix into NFL game broadcasts.
  • Four additional primetime appearances across NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football and ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

It’s all part of an effort by the NFL and its media partners to pursue a repeat of the banner 2023 campaign that included an across-the-board sweep of ratings increases in the regular season and every part of the playoffs. As the NFL continues to separate out its schedule to create more standalone games, the Chiefs over the upcoming season will play on every day of the week with the exception of a Tuesday.

More Schedule Highlights

Almost every year, there is a team that is positioned as a breakout story, based in part on the rise in national TV appearances on the schedule. Last year, that team was the Lions. And this year, it’s the Texans, who are coming off a trip to the divisional round of the playoffs and have both the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year (C.J. Stroud) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Will Anderson Jr.) from last year on the roster.

The Texans will be featured this year in six national appearances, including Christmas Day against the Ravens and that Dec. 21 game in Kansas City.

Amazon, meanwhile, will be getting all 14 playoff teams on its 2024 schedule for Thursday Night Football, while NBC Sports has 13 games involving matchups of postseason participants last year, ESPN has the much-anticipated Harbaugh Bowl on Nov. 25 between the Ravens (coached by John Harbaugh) and Chargers (coached by Jim Harbaugh), CBS Sports will air at least eight Chiefs games—twice as many as any other network, and Fox Sports will show the Super Bowl LVIII rematch between the Chiefs and 49ers on Oct. 20. 

Social Media Frenzy

The Super Bowl for NFL players arrives in February. But the Super Bowl for each team’s social media staff arrives on the day of the schedule release, and this year was no exception as each of them sought to showcase their upcoming slate. 

Inventive displays of the schedule were developed by teams such as the Chargers, Rams, Ravens, and Falcons

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