While the NFL is proceeding as if a 2020 season will be played, the prospects of a college football season happening this fall are still uncertain. And if no college football because of the COVID-19 pandemic leaves an opening on Saturdays, the league is looking at seizing an opportunity to televise games on an additional day each week.
The possibility of the NFL moving some games to Saturday was first reported by the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, who says the league has been talking with its TV partners about such a scenario.
NFL games are already played on Saturdays late in the regular season after the college football campaign finishes each year. As part of its new deal with the NFL, Amazon will have exclusive streaming rights to one of those Saturday games for the next three seasons.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio spoke with a source who said that any NFL games moved to Saturdays would likely become exclusive streaming telecasts on Amazon Prime or ESPN+, or possibly even NFL Game Pass.
Why not put those games on regular network TV?
Streaming outlets are likely to pay a premium for content that fans will seek out on their platforms. In turn, Fox and CBS would get a rebate for any games moved off their respective TV schedules. (The NFL would get that money back in its next TV deals anyway.) Additionally, TV networks already facing reduced ad revenues probably won’t be interested in paying even more money to keep or gain those game broadcasts.
However, Florio’s source emphasized that the NFL isn’t relishing the opportunity to move some games to Saturdays because the league wants college football to be played. It needs college football to be played, in regards to scouting draft prospects and getting their most recent performances on tape. A postponed or canceled college football season may also mean several players decide to stay in school for another year to improve their draft stock.
If an NFL season is able to be played, it seems like college football could have a 2020 season (or one delayed to Spring 2021) as well. However, pro football doesn’t have to deal with the dilemma of playing football games on campus while universities could be largely closed with regular students being restricted to taking courses online because of COVID-19 concerns. College players would look less like student-athletes than they ever have.