With the 2015-16 NFL season over, the league is already looking at which games to slot for some of its high-profile days including the 2016 NFL Kickoff and Thanksgiving Day contests. Already, there is jostling among the networks for which games they want to air and which games they want to prevent the other partners from taking.
Sports Business Daily notes that the NFL is looking at two possibilities for the season opener which airs annually on NBC. With the Denver Broncos entering the 2016-17 season as defending champions, they would host the game so the NFL wants a blockbuster to start the new campaign. One possibility would be a Super Bowl 50 rematch with the Carolina Panthers which would normally be a Fox game. The other possibility would be to slot the Broncos’ annual matchup with the New England Patriots into the season opener, but SBD reports that CBS is likely to fight to keep that game as the league usually schedules it on NBC every other year and the Peacock carried it in 2015.
In fact, Sports Business Daily reports that representatives from all of the NFL’s TV partners, CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC were in San Francisco during Super Bowl week to lobby for the games they wanted to carry during the upcoming season.
As for Thanksgiving Day which CBS, Fox and NBC all air games, it appears that at least two will be all-NFC matchups. It looks like in the late afternoon window which will air on Fox this year, the NFL will schedule Washington to play Dallas, while for the early afternoon window in Detroit on CBS, the league wants to give the Tiffany Network a cross-flex opportunity by having a division rival take on the Lions.
For the 2016 season, the Lions’ AFC opponents at Ford Field are Jacksonville and Tennessee and won’t likely be scheduled into the Thanksgiving Day game.
As for Thursday Night Football, the NFL is looking to make the CBS and NBC portions very attractive so it may not lean on divisional matchups as much it has for the past two seasons.
And with Los Angeles in the mix for the first time since 1994, the league has to consider that if it wants to schedule a Monday or Thursday night game in the Los Angeles Coliseum whose main tenant is USC, the NFL has to get permission from the University first so it will be interesting to see if the Rams get a primetime game this season.
It’s still early in the scheduling process, but expect the NFL to announce the games for the Kickoff and Thanksgiving Day games fairly soon so it can increase the anticipation for fans going through football withdrawals in the dead of winter.