Now that the 2023 NFL schedule will be officially released this week, there will be a few changes as the new contract with media partners officially takes effect with this upcoming season. Over the last two years since Amazon, Comcast, Disney, Fox, Paramount and now Google have signed with the NFL, we have seen a few new features such as Thursday Night Football streaming on Prime Video in 2022, a Week 18 Saturday doubleheader on ESPN/ABC and a Monday night “side-by-side” game that aired on ABC and ESPN.
In 2023, there will be more things to get used to. Let’s go over them.
Sunday Afternoons — All Games Will Be Free Agents So to Speak
Fox will remain the network of the National Football Conference and CBS will still be the network of the American Football Conference. That distinction will especially be true during the postseason. CBS will still air the AFC Championship and Fox the NFC Championship.
What’s going to be different is that you will see more NFC matchups on CBS and more AFC games on Fox. However, that doesn’t mean the Dallas Cowboys or the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills will be spread evenly between CBS and Fox. Mike Mulvihill, a Fox Sports vice president, made sure to make people aware that a majority of Cowboys games will still air on Fox.
Fox will have at least twice as many Cowboys games as any other network.
And while I wish it were true that “CBS can no longer lay claim to the Chiefs”…..they can.
— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) May 9, 2023
So while Fox will want a number of New York Jets games now that Aaron Rodgers is playing in the tri-state area, CBS will remain the home of the Jets. Fox will continue to be home to a majority of bread-and-butter NFC teams like the Bears, Eagles, Giants, Packers, Rams and 49ers while CBS remains the home of AFC stalwarts like the Bills, Chiefs, Dolphins, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, you get the idea. It’s just that you may see an even mix of AFC and NFC games on Sunday afternoons on both CBS and Fox.
Holiday Games on Black Friday and Christmas Day
Last year, we almost got a game on Black Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Instead, the NFL decided to schedule one in 2023. It will part of Amazon Prime Video’s schedule. The game will be free to all and not require a subscription to watch. Black Friday has been traditionally for college football rivalries and the NFL will not only have a tripleheader on Thanksgiving Day, but now one more game that holiday weekend on Black Friday.
Christmas Day falls on a Monday this year. Just like last Christmas when CBS, Fox and NBC all had games, CBS, Fox and ESPN will carry one game each on the holiday. Christmas Day has normally been the NBA’s territory, but the NFL has been infringing on the holiday over the last few years and drew very good numbers last year over the Association. This will be the second straight season where the NFL will air three games against the NBA’s five.
Flex Scheduling Comes to Monday Night Football
NBC has had the flex ever since it obtained the rights to Sunday Night Football in 2005. The one weakness of the Monday Night Football slate was that it was stuck with its schedule and had to air what would become poor matchups in the late season. Starting in 2023, ESPN will be able to use the flex in Weeks 12-17 ensuring better games and what should lead to better ratings. In order to help teams prepare, no game can be flexed less than 12 days in advance. However, CBS and Fox can protect more games under their contracts so it might be harder to take a game from their schedules especially if the Cowboys or Chiefs are involved.
Not Every Team Will Be in Primetime
One perk Amazon picked up this season is that a team can play twice on Thursday Night Football. Under the previous media rights contract, every team was ensured at least one primetime game. That led to some bad Thursday night games as Al Michaels certainly made as aware last season. With teams playing on multiple Thursday nights, that means we likely won’t have the Houston Texans playing under the lights in 2023.
ABC Gets More Monday Night Football
OG fans will remember the days of ABC carrying Monday Night Football. The amount of NFL games on ABC has gone up over the years. Last year, it carried a standalone game in Week 2 with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling Minnesota at Philadelphia on ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET while ESPN had Tennessee at Buffalo at 7:15 p.m.
This season, there will be three instances where ESPN and ABC will have “side-by-side” games. Gone are the Week 1 doubleheaders at 7 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Instead, ESPN will have the early game while ABC will have a contest 75 minutes later. In addition, there will be weeks where ABC will simulcast ESPN’s game. And in Week 18, ABC and ESPN will simulcast a Saturday doubleheader as well as the Monday Night Wild Card Playoff Game and a Divisional Playoff game next January.
Chris Fowler Will Call Five NFL Games
This was reported last week. Chris Fowler who called a couple of MNF games in 2020 will be back in 2023 to call the secondary MNF matchups on the aforementioned three side-by-side weeks, the early portion of the Week 18 Saturday doubleheader and a London game that will stream on ESPN+. His trip to the U.K. means that Fowler will not call a college football matchup that week.
Steve Levy who has called Monday Night Football games since 2020 will be left out in the cold.
YouTube/YouTube TV Becomes an Official NFL Media Partner With NFL Sunday Ticket
With Google on board as the provider of the NFL’s out-of-market package, it means that NFL Sunday Ticket will officially be a streaming product. It also means that NFL RedZone will be part of the package as well. We don’t know all the specifics of the package, but we do know the price and it won’t be cheap. You won’t have to subscribe to YouTube TV to get the package, you will be able to buy it through YouTube. Just like it was on DirecTV, all Sunday afternoon out-of-market games will be available on NFL Sunday Ticket.
Five International Games in London and Germany
The NFL continues to play games in Europe. There will be three games played in London and two in Germany. NFL Network will air four international games with one on ESPN+. We do know that the Patriots and Chiefs will “host” games in Germany while Jacksonville, Tennessee and Buffalo will likely be the “hosts” in London.
All this becomes official this week. The international and Black Friday games will be announced first followed by select games on Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC then the entire NFL schedule on Thursday night on NFL Network and ESPN2.