Netflix Inks Groundbreaking NFL Christmas Day Deal

In a landmark move that shakes up the sports broadcasting landscape, Netflix has secured exclusive rights to air NFL games on Christmas Day. The streaming behemoth will feature both December 25th matchups scheduled for 2024, with at least one other Christmas game guaranteed for 2025 and 2026. This bold step signals Netflix’s determination to tap into the immense viewership commanded by America’s most popular professional sports league.

“Last year, we decided to take a big bet on live — tapping into massive fandoms across comedy, reality TV, sports, and more,” Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria declared. Her rationale is clear: “There are no live annual events, sports or otherwise, that compare with the audiences NFL football attracts. We’re so excited that the NFL’s Christmas Day games will be only on Netflix.”

The 2024 Christmas games will see Pittsburgh host the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, followed by Baltimore traveling to Houston. “We couldn’t be more excited to be the first professional sports league to partner with Netflix to bring live games to fans around the world,” said Hans Schroeder, NFL Executive Vice President of Media Distribution. “The NFL on Christmas has become a tradition, and to partner with Netflix, a service whose biggest day of the year is typically this holiday, is the perfect combination to grow this event globally for NFL fans.”

Netflix will also ensure broad accessibility to the Christmas 2024 games by broadcasting them to local television in the competing teams’ home markets. They will also be available on mobile devices via the NFL+ streaming service. This multi-platform approach is a testament to Netflix’s recognition that reaching the NFL’s vast audience necessitates a diverse distribution strategy.

For Netflix, this represents a seismic leap into the live sports arena. Until now, the platform has merely dipped its toes with one-off broadcasts like tennis matches, golf events, and an upcoming boxing exhibition between Mike Tyson and YouTuber Jake Paul on July 20th. Starting in January 2025, Netflix will also become the home for WWE’s flagship “Raw” series. However, scoring the NFL’s Christmas games signals Netflix’s willingness to splurge on premium sports properties that reliably draw mammoth audiences.

This NFL deal is part of a more significant strategic pivot for Netflix into live broadcasting across multiple genres. Just last month, the service aired a live Tom Brady roast comedy special and a six-part stand-up series from John Mulaney. As traditional TV viewership fragments, Netflix recognizes the indispensable appeal of must-see live events to attract subscribers and advertisers.

Of course, Netflix is not alone in coveting the NFL’s enviable viewership. Amazon holds exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football, while NBCUniversal’s Peacock streamed a playoff game last season and will host the league’s inaugural Brazilian broadcast in September. Legacy broadcast networks like Fox, CBS, and NBC remain vital NFL partners, too.

The battle for sports broadcasting rights is intensifying amid this crowded field. The NBA is currently fielding bids over $2 billion for its upcoming media contracts. At the same time, a dispute between Bally Sports and Comcast has disrupted regional MLB broadcasts. In today’s media market, where appointment viewing is scarce, live sports remain a hot commodity thanks to their robust, reliable audiences.

With its NFL Christmas gambit, Netflix is signaling its deep pockets and ambition to become a dominant sports streamer. While even a few years ago, such a deal would have seemed improbable, the latest rights acquisition reaffirms Netflix’s determination to use its vast resources and fandom to break into any arena that engages viewers in real time. The future of sports broadcasting may be getting reshuffled, but Netflix is clearly dealing itself a big hand.