Rumored in Netflix Deal, NFL Is a Mercenary in the Streaming Wars

The NFL already has sold Amazon and Peacock exclusives on certain games

An alternate NFL logo.
The NFL logo may another new broadcast home if rumors are true.
Perry Knotts/Getty

Already in bed with Amazon on Thursday Night Football and in cahoots with Peacock for Sunday Night Football as well as an exclusive playoff game (or two?), the NFL might be muddying the battlefield in the streaming wars even more by gifting Netflix a pair of pigskin presents: Christmas games. At least that’s the rumor that’s going around with the league’s schedule set to be released next week in an event that will air on NFL Network with additional coverage available on ESPN2.

The tidbit about Netflix bringing a couple of Christmas Day NFL games home for the holidays came from ex-CBS broadcaster Boomer Esiason, who teased the possibility of the new partnership during his Boomer and Gio show on WFAN earlier this week. “What I think is going to happen, I could be wrong, but don’t think I am…Do not be surprised if the NFL and Netflix get in bed for a nice little Christmas Day football games. I would not be surprised,” he said.

Though Netflix is far from a sports streaming service, it has been wading into the waters of live programming and just broadcast the now-controversial roast of Tom Brady on Sunday night as it happened. The streaming giant is also set to broadcast Mike Tyson’s fight with Jake Paul to a live audience when they duke it out in Texas in late July. So, as much as it might anger the NFL’s other streaming partners, it’s not hard to imagine Netflix ponying up big bucks for a set of Christmas contests.

“All these other leagues are doing this now, too,” Esiason said. “Everybody’s parceling these things up. Like the NHL, part of it is on TNT, part of it is on ESPN. All these leagues are doing that and they know there is a fight for these streaming services going on.”

Should Netflix win this particular fight and secure the rights to the NFL’s Christmas package, it will certainly not win them the streaming war. The victory may also prove to be a bit hollow as Christmas is on a Wednesday this year, which feels like weird timing for holiday travelers and could have an impact on viewership on the holiday. We also don’t know the franchises that will be involved in the upcoming Christmas games, which is another factor. We do know the participating teams will have played on Saturday the previous weekend to maintain the recovery window. 

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Taking all that into account, it almost sounds like a bad idea. But that won’t stop it from happening.

“The reality is that the NFL calls the shots in the broadcast relationships, where ‘the customer is always right’ has been turned on its head, for years,” according to ProFootballTalk. “That’s one of the benefits of having a highly valuable product and limited supply. Big Shield calls the shots, and Christmas 2024 might bring a new customer to the table. Along with a whole lot of money for the league.”

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