Will Netflix broadcast NFL games?

Associated Press and by JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer

14 minutes ago

(AP) – Netflix and the NFL announced a three-year deal Wednesday to stream games on Christmas Day.

The streaming giant will broadcast two games this year and at least one game in 2025 and 2026. Reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City faces Pittsburgh in the first game, followed by Baltimore in Houston.

The NFL has played a total of 30 games on Christmas Day since 1971, including three last year. However, they stayed away from the midweek games until this year’s Christmas list.

Hans Schroeder, executive vice president of NFL Media, said a plan was presented at the team owners’ meeting in March that would have teams playing on Christmas Day play their Week 16 games on Saturday, giving them the same preparation time would give that they normally have in a short week when games are played on Sunday and Thursday.

After owners greenlit the sequel, Netflix approached the league to request that the games be broadcast.

“We had an extensive process and spoke to a number of potential parties and ultimately came to the conclusion that Netflix was the right fit,” Schroeder said. “This is truly the first truly global rights deal with a major sports league or company. We will learn a lot and look forward to our fans around the world being able to enjoy the games on a single platform.”

Netflix began airing NFL programming last year with the series “Quarterback.” A series about wide receivers is premiering this year. Additionally, the Tom Brady roast was streamed live on May 5, and later this year there will be a 10-part documentary series about Jerry Jones and his ownership of the Dallas Cowboys.

Netflix’s foray into broadcasting live sports began last year, but these were exhibition events in golf and tennis. The fight between Mike Tyson and Jake Paul is also scheduled to air on July 20, and World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship show, “Raw,” will be broadcast next year.

“People love football and so do we. These games fit our major event live strategy for all live programming we’ve done in the last year – like the Tom Brady roast, the Netflix Slam and the upcoming Jake Paul vs. Tyson boxing match. We look forward to leading the NFL conversation around Christmas Day,” Bela Bajaria, Netflix’s chief content officer, told The Associated Press.

It remains to be seen who Netflix will use to announce and produce the holiday doubleheader.

The bigger question is how the switch from broadcast to streaming will affect ratings, since Christmas plays typically reach large audiences. Last year’s three games averaged 28.68 million viewers. The early afternoon contest between the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs averaged 29.48 million.

David Berson, CEO and president of CBS Sports, welcomed Netflix, even if it meant his network didn’t show a game on Christmas Day.

“Good for Netflix. “The more interest there is in the NFL, the more we will benefit from it,” Berson said. “We can’t possibly have all the AFC games — we know some will go to NBC, ESPN, Amazon and, in this case, Netflix,” he said. “It’s great to have her there. Welcome to the party.”

Although there was some criticism of moving more games to streaming, NFL fans largely stuck with it.

According to Nielsen numbers, the 16-game “Thursday Night Football” package on Prime Video averaged 11.86 million viewers last season, a 24% increase from 2023. Two games had more than 15 million viewers, including 15, 3 million for the November 30 duel between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

The AFC Wild Card Playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs on Peacock on Jan. 13 averaged 23 million viewers, a record for the most-watched event on a streaming service. It also surpassed viewership for the Saturday night wild card playoff games shown on NBC in two of the last three years.

“We looked at all of those elements and then looked at what Netflix audiences could do with their reach,” Schroeder said. “We want to continue to reach our fans on these new platforms and where we know they spend their time. And we are very pleased to gain a new partner who can appeal to an even broader audience.”

Consistent with the NFL’s longstanding policy on games broadcast on cable or streaming platforms, Netflix’s holiday games will be televised in the hometowns of participating teams and will be available on mobile devices in the U.S. with NFL+.

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