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