Dec 16, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Detroit Lions fans dressed in Christmas attire react in the first half against the Denver Broncos at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Big bidding expected for NFL Christmas games

There will be a hot commodity on the market ahead of next holiday season: a pair of NFL games on Christmas Day.

The league plans to auction off the TV rights to those two games to the highest bidder, with the price starting at $50 million per game, Front Office Sports reported Thursday.

In an unexpected move, the NFL decided to schedule a doubleheader on Christmas Day, which falls on a Wednesday in 2024. NFL executives pointed to the ratings the three Christmas games got in 2023; each were among the top 10 in ratings in the regular season, per the Wall Street Journal.

Because games on a Wednesday would not fall under any preexisting contract, the league will allow all its TV and streaming partners — CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN-ABC and Amazon Prime — to duke it out for the rights.

There have been only two NFL games played on a Wednesday since 1949. One was when the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants were moved off a Thursday to avoid conflicting with the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The other was when the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled to play on Thanksgiving but the game was pushed back three times due to COVID-19.

This will be the fifth straight season the NFL has played on Christmas, encroaching on a sports day typically dominated by the NBA.

–Field Level Media

A Big Noon Kickoff logo is seen on a lift as setup continues for the Fox Sports NCAA football Big Noon Kickoff pregame show, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, on the east side of the Pentacrest on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, Iowa.

211008 Big Noon Setup 007 Jpg

Reports: Fox to show college football game every Friday in 2024

Fox will broadcast a Friday college football game every week of the 2024 season, The Athletic and Sports Business Journal reported Thursday.

College football’s TV schedule will not be ironed out until May, but the games eligible for the Friday night treatment will feature teams from the Big Ten, Big 12 and Mountain West conferences.

Once reserved for high schools, Friday night football is not new to the Big Ten, which started putting select games on Friday nights in 2017. The Big Ten Network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1) have carried those games in the past.

Now, games will be carried on Fox each week in the run-up to the network’s “Big Noon Saturday,” its weekly show that competes with ESPN’s “College GameDay” and highlights its best game of the week.

The college football games will fill an empty window after Fox did not renew its agreement for WWE’s “Friday Night Smackdown.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman (left) and his son Thom Brennaman (right) broadcast from a temporary radio booth in the seating bowl at the beginning of a game between the Milwaukee Brewers an the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

FOX Sports takes Brennaman off NFL broadcasts

Thom Brennaman will no longer broadcast NFL games on FOX Sports after he used a homophobic slur on the air while calling a baseball game, the network announced Thursday.

Brennaman, 56, was suspended as the Cincinnati Reds’ play-by-play voice after he made a comment on Fox Sports Ohio while apparently thinking his microphone was off. The Reds were playing the first game of a doubleheader in Kansas City, which he described as “one of the (expletive) capitals of the world” as a camera spanned the field before the top of the seventh inning.

“FOX Sports is extremely disappointed with Thom’s remarks during Wednesday’s Cincinnati Reds telecast,” the network said in a statement. “The language used was abhorrent, unacceptable, and not representative of the values of FOX Sports. As it relates to Brennaman’s FOX NFL role, we are moving forward with our NFL schedule which will not include him.”

The clip of Brennaman’s comment quickly went viral on social media. Brennaman remained on the broadcast for the remainder of Game 1 of the doubleheader and the start of Game 2, but he apologized in the top of the fifth inning of the second game before being replaced by Jim Day, who typically works as the broadcast team’s on-field reporter.

“I made a comment earlier tonight, that, I guess, went out over the air, that I am deeply ashamed of,” Brennaman said. “If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart, I’m so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith. …

“I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again. I don’t if it’s going to be for the Reds, I don’t know if it’s going to be for my bosses at FOX. I’m going to apologize to the people who sign my paycheck, for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody that I’ve offended here tonight.

“I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am. It never has been. And I’d like to think maybe I could have some people who could back that up. I am very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness.”

The son of legendary broadcaster Marty Brennaman, Thom has called Major League Baseball games for 33 years and has been with FOX Sports for the past 27.

–Field Level Media