Holiday vibes for fans at the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Netflix, NFL unwrap football for Christmas through 2026

Treading further into territory once reserved for NBA broadcasts, the NFL plans to continue airing games on Christmas Day beyond the 2024 doubleheader on Netflix announced on Wednesday.

NFL Vice President of Media Hans Schroeder said Thursday the league already has outlined plans for Christmas games in 2025 and 2026. Since Christmas is on a Saturday in 2027, it’s a near certainty regular-season games will be played that day, too.

“Amazon will have their traditional Thursday night game in primetime on Christmas on Thursday next year, and we’ll have another game on Netflix in the afternoon,” Schroeder said on a conference call discussing the league schedule for the 2024 season released Wednesday.

“Netflix will have a game on Friday the year after that (2026). We’ll use how we think about ’25 to form how we go into ’26.”

With Christmas falling on a Wednesday in 2024, the four teams involved were scheduled for Saturday games the week before to emulate the Saturday-to-Thursday game week schedule.

Traditionally, the NBA is the only game competing for airtime with a scarce sports broadcast schedule on Christmas Day. After ratings showed sincere interest from fans in Christmas games in 2023, the NFL claims it decided to commit to more in future seasons.

All three games had more than 27 million viewers according to Nielsen, ratings that piqued the interest of the NFL. The games were peeled out of the full network broadcast agreements and Netflix reportedly bid $75 million for each of its three holiday games.

VP of Broadcast Mike North said the NFL “wasn’t thinking about” scheduling on Christmas 2024 at this time last year.

“When you saw the viewership numbers for Christmas for the tripleheader last year, and the tripleheader the year before — I think it’s four of the last five years that we’ve played on Christmas — the fans have spoken,” North said. “They want the games there and our broadcast partners want the games there.”

–Field Level Media

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

Dec 21, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; A Philadelphia Eagles fan dressed as Santa cheers during the fourth quarter against the Washington Football Team at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

NFL to play 2 games on Christmas Day, a Wednesday, this year

The NFL is scheduling two games for Christmas Day 2024, even though it falls on a Wednesday.

Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s executive vice president of media distribution, said Tuesday at the annual league meeting in Orlando, Fla., that the league will play on Wednesday because the fans “clearly spoke” through their viewership. The three Christmas Day games in 2023, played on a Monday, each were among the top 10 in ratings in the regular season, per the Wall Street Journal.

“From what we’ve seen the last couple years is really some unprecedented growth, and not just on Christmas, on Thanksgiving, too,” Schroeder said. “The last couple of years have had the highest-regular season game ever viewed in the regular season. That mindset, that opportunity, that belief we have that football brings people together — that’s even truer on these big holidays that happen throughout the year.

“When we saw the viewership from this past year, really our fans clearly spoke. We certainly saw and believe that they are very much enjoying and wanting NFL football on Christmas. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to play a couple of games, like we’ve typically played for well over a decade, probably more than that, on Saturday of Week 16, and then come back and play a couple of games on Christmas Day on Wednesday.”

Wednesday games are rare. The last time a game was played on a Wednesday came in 2021, when a COVID-19 outbreak forced the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers to delay their planned Thanksgiving game until the following Wednesday.

“Well, I think the days are the same for us. We’ve done this,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “In fact, COVID was a learning opportunity, I think it was the first time we played on a Wednesday. It will not be a regular thing. It will be when Christmas falls on a Wednesday. But the time period between games has been done before. We have not seen any elevation of injuries. You all, and we, have had a major focus on Thursday night when we first put it in, and we’ve still not seen any kind of elevation of injuries. So I think we have this down.”

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

In 2024, the NFL schedule calls for the league to be idle only on Tuesdays.

The league holds games every week on Sunday, Monday and Thursday, with some late-season contests held on Saturday. A Black Friday game was introduced last year and will continue in 2024, and a Week 1 game in Brazil also will occur on Friday.

–Field Level Media

Apr 25, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) works out during a Denver Broncos mini camp at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Rams, Broncos set for Christmas Day in L.A.

Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos are going to California for Christmas.

The Broncos and Los Angeles Rams are scheduled for a 4:25 p.m. ET game on Christmas Day, with CBS and Nickelodeon sharing the simulcast. Previous games on Nickelodeon with a kid-focused theme and broadcast team have drawn high ratings.

Wilson was acquired in March from the Seattle Seahawks and is a longtime division rival of the Rams.

Los Angeles won the Super Bowl in February to cap its first season with Matthew Stafford as starting quarterback.

–Field Level Media

Nov 3, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A Washington Redskins fan wearing a Santa Claus hat looks on prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

NFL to stage first-ever Christmas Day tripleheader

The NFL will hold a tripleheader on Christmas Day for the first time in 2022.

NFL vice president of broadcast planning Mike North told Buffalo’s WGR 550 this week that with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the league will expand its footprint on the holiday despite Christmas traditionally being the NBA’s domain.

“We’ll play one game on CBS in the afternoon, one game on Fox in the afternoon and our regular Sunday night game on NBC,” North said. “Christmas, when it falls on an NFL game day, we’ve had a lot of success there, all due respect to our friends at the NBA.”

The NFL will have 11 games on Saturday, Christmas Eve, along with its usual Thursday and Monday night games surrounding the Christmas tripleheader.

The Christmas matchups are expected to be leaked during the week of May 9 before the full schedule is released May 12.

The league scheduled two games on Christmas in 2021, when it fell on a Saturday, and played one Friday evening Christmas game in 2020.

The NBA plays five games back to back every Christmas.

–Field Level Media