NFL Assures Fans That ‘About 85% of Our Games’ Will Broadcast for Free Despite Push to Streaming

The league’s heads also shed light on its three-season Netflix deal

Derick McKinnon #1 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with the the Vince Lombardi Trophy (Getty Collection)
Derick McKinnon of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with the the Vince Lombardi Trophy (Credit: Getty Collection)

NFL fans don’t have to worry about streamers like Netflix, Amazon and Peacock gobbling up all of 2024’s games. In the wake of Netflix’s Christmas Day partnership with the league, NFL heads assured in a Thursday press conference that most of their games will remain free to watch.

“It’s still the case that every single NFL game will be shown on free, over-the-air broadcast television to the competing teams’ home markets, as it always has been,” Jeff Miller, the league’s EVP of communications for public affairs and policy, said. “We are consistent with that commitment to our local fans. As a matter of fact, even when you consider some of our streaming partners like Netflix or Peacock or Amazon on Thursdays, about 85% of our games are on traditional broadcast television with our partners CBS and Fox. Those games will continue to be seen for free over the air.”

When it came to planning the schedule, the NFL knew that it was going to have some “good games” for key windows throughout the season as well as for their streaming partners. That left the league with “200 or so games” that were “doled out strategically” to CBS and Fox, Mike North, VP of broadcast planning, said.

“Maybe the number of games are thinner, certainly for CBS and Fox, but I can tell you their reactions to their schedules yesterday when they got them: They felt pretty good about what we are able to do for their Sunday afternoons,” North said.

On Wednesday, the NFL released its 2024 schedule, which revealed that Netflix’s much-discussed two games on Christmas Day would be between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m. ET and the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans at 4:30 p.m. ET. Scheduling the game on primetime was avoided due to the holiday; these earlier start times will likely boost global viewership. That 1 p.m. ET kickoff time will occur around 6 p.m. in several parts of Europe.

Hans Schroeder, EVP of media distribution for the NFL, noted that this deal with Netflix is both “their first really major sports rights deal with the professional league” as well as the NFL’s first “truly global deal.” The streamer currently has 270 million subscribers worldwide in more than 190 countries.

“That’s building on our continued focus on international as a whole. We will continue to have a lot of games this year, one in Brazil, as we mentioned, three more in London, and the fourth in Germany,” Schroeder said. “All of those games in Europe will be on NFL Network.”

The league also touched on how the three-season Netflix deal will look in the future. The NFL will air two games on the streamer this Christmas, and in 2025, one game will air on Amazon and the second will air on Netflix. This is due to Amazon’s Thursday Night Football deal. Netflix will then have a game on Friday the following year.

“We’ll use how we think about 2025 to certainly inform how we go into 2026,” Schroeder said.

The NFL heads also shed light on how this new partnership came to be. The Chiefs’ playoff game against the Miami Dolphins in January brought in 23 million viewers on Peacock, which was a bigger audience than the league saw the previous year.

“We know broadcast is critically important. We know the reach it provides is really important,” Schroeder said. “But we also see some of these new and emerging platforms. Netflix is far from new and emerging, but on the digital side, they already can deliver very wide, very scaled audiences.”

The EVP went on to add that a longtime pillar of success for the league has been having “multiple partners.” That’s why the NFL has been careful to keep some of its inventory “to deploy strategically and make sure we’re thinking about where the future media is going.”

“The idea is we want, and will continue, to be very dedicated and focused on the widest reach for our games,” Schroeder said.

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