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Netflix may score two Christmas Day NFL games

(Stock image via Pixabay, Graphic by The Desk)
(Stock image via Pixabay, Graphic by The Desk)

Netflix is in the running to score two National Football League (NFL) games that would be played on Christmas Day, according to a report published late Thursday evening.

The report, from former Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand (now at Puck), cites Netflix’s continued discussions with the NFL as a major reason why the regular season schedule was not released this week as anticipated.

The league began informing key stakeholders this week that the schedule for the 2024-25 season would be unveiled on May 15. Immediately, industry analysts and football fans alike speculated — with some reason — that the delay was due to the NFL working out various details of its Christmas Day games, including who will broadcast them to a national audience.

On Wednesday, retired football player Boomer Esiason floated the idea of Netflix landing at least one of the Christmas Day games during a discussion about the schedule release on his WFAN (660 AM) radio show. One day later, Ourand said industry sources had conveyed to him that the NFL was “in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation with Netflix over its planned Christmas Day games.”

Ourand said it was likely Netflix “will wind up carrying the two NFL games scheduled for December 25,” though he cautioned that nothing had been signed or announced, suggeseting the deal could still fall apart.

Still, scoring the national telecast rights to two NFL games would be Netflix’s biggest sports broadcast deal in the company’s 17-year history.

Less clear is how much the league wants for the games, or whether it will pay off for Netflix. Last year, Amazon offered the NFL’s first-ever Black Friday game, aired one day after Thanksgiving. Despite streaming the game for free — football fans didn’t need a Prime membership to watch it — the game averaged less than 10 million concurrent viewers, with under 12 million watching the game at its peak.

Netflix might have better luck: Christmas Day telecasts tend to pull in better numbers, with last year’s game on ABC grabbing 27.2 million viewers and an afternoon game on CBS pulling in 28.3 million viewers.

Of the 269 million global paying subscribers Netflix logged during the first quarter (Q1) of the year, more than 81.3 million are based in the United States and Canada. Assuming the NFL rights are in both locations, and those numbers hold through the end of the year, the Netflix telecast of one or both NFL games could draw a higher audience compared to the Black Friday game on Prime Video.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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