NFL, Netflix come together for Christmas Day games

Three-year deal marks first Big Four sports rights deal for streamer

The world’s most dominant streamer is teaming up with the world’s most dominant sports league.

In a landmark deal, Netflix announced Wednesday morning it has agreed to stream two Christmas Day games beginning with the 2024 season, and at least one game in 2025 and 2026. Like other cable and streaming deals, the league will make a feed available to over-the-air broadcasters in the competing team’s home markets and on the NFL Plus app.

You can also look for a deal with DirecTV to air those Christmas games, so bars, restaurants, and other business establishments (if they are open on Christmas) can provide a feed to their customers. DirecTV has agreements with Amazon through third-party vendors to showcase Thursday Night Football and NFL Sunday Ticket to those venues. 

It’s believed Netflix will pay anywhere from $75 million to $150 million, according to widely varied sources as Netflix and the NFL declined to comment (the parties did release a vague press release with very little information that we already didn’t know.)

The announcement comes on the same day Netflix is holding its first upfront presentation in New York, and when the NFL releases its highly anticipated 2024 season schedule in prime-time. However, the league already announced some marquee matchups early, including the Netflix Christmas games: The first features the Pittsburgh Steelers playing the Kansas City Chiefs at noon Central, followed by the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans at 3:25 p.m. 

The NFL’s decision to schedule games on Christmas this year was surprising, given that the holiday falls on a Wednesday. However, the league wanted to create another holiday viewing experience similar to Thanksgiving and believed the short rest between scheduled games wouldn’t be an issue for the players. Traditionally, the NBA has had the Christmas Day showcase before the NFL expanded its regular season. The first Christmas NFL game took place in 1971, a double-overtime thriller between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs but that was a divisional playoff matchup, as the regular season ended earlier than it does now. 

Reaction to the news wasn’t exactly positive as fans now would have to pay for another streaming service to access the Christmas games. But viewers can subscribe to NFL Plus to see each Christmas game for nearly the same price as a standard-tier Netflix subscription with ads.

The deal proves anything can change as at one time, Netflix claimed it wasn’t interested in carrying any live sports as it focused mostly on scripted and reality TV programming – not to mention the absence of ads. But with the popularity of live sports skyrocketing and “Peak TV” ending as the number of scripted programs being developed declined, Netflix couldn’t afford to sit on the sidelines as they try to stay ahead of competitors Amazon and Disney in the streaming wars. 


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