Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders fan Andy Coronado (left) poses with Santa Claus during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Move over stockings, Santa, tinsel, trees and presents — there’s a new Christmas Day tradition taking form.

According to The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton, after initially stating that it would actively avoid playing games on Christmas Day in 2024, the NFL is reversing course. Despite the holiday falling on a Wednesday, the league plans to play as many as two games on December 25th this year, NFL executive vice president of media distribution, Hans Schroeder, revealed.

“The fans clearly spoke,” Schroeder told WSJ. “There’s a big demand.”

While the NFL had previously actively avoided Christmas Day in the past, this will mark the fifth straight season that the league will schedule a game on the holiday. But whereas the previous four years saw Christmas fall on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the league opting to place a regular-season game on a Wednesday offers the clearest signal that NFL football will be a holiday staple moving forward.

In order to accommodate such a shift, the Christmas Day game (or games) will feature teams who played on Saturday the previous week. That will hardly be ideal for such teams, who will have to grapple with playing two games on short-rest in consecutive weeks.

Yet despite the logistical challenges, the NFL planting its flag on Christmas Day — much to the NBA’s chagrin — is hardly surprising, if not expected. As Schroeder noted, the ratings for the league’s Christmas Day games have been great, with last year’s three games on the holiday averaging more than 28 million viewers.

Having previously played Christmas Day games throughout the weekend, the only challenge left appears to be whether the league can accommodate playing games when the holiday falls on a Tuesday. The NFL, however, has five years to figure that out, as it won’t happen again until 2029.

“We found a path to Wednesday this year,” Schroeder said. “Tuesday might be a bridge too far.”

As Tuesday’s announcement show, “might” could very well be the operative word.

[The Wall Street Journal]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.