NFL Christmas Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL doesn’t appear to be moving away from scheduling games on Christmas Day any time soon.

During a conference call Thursday, NFL EVP of Media Distribution Hans Schroeder said the league is leaning towards two Christmas Day games on the schedule in 2025.

Christmas Day falls on a Thursday in 2025.

“Obviously we’ll have two on Netflix this year and then we’ll have two next year,” Schroeder said. “Amazon will have their traditional Thursday night game in primetime on Christmas on Thursday next year, and we’ll have another game on Netflix in the afternoon. Netflix will have a game on Friday the year after that. We’ll use how we think about ’25 to form how we go into ’26.”

Additionally, NFL VP of Broadcast Planning Mike North said the league wasn’t thinking about scheduling games on Christmas for the 2024 season until the success of the games in recent seasons.

“Certainly something like playing on a Wednesday was a unique one for us this year,” North said. “The interesting thing about the Wednesday is that I think you all heard from Hans and from me last year at this time is that we weren’t really thinking about Christmas Wednesday when we were looking to the 2024 schedule.

“But when you saw the viewership numbers for Christmas for the tripleheader last year, and the tripleheader the year before, I think it’s four of the last five years that we’ve played on Christmas, the fans have spoken. They want the games there and our broadcast partners want the games there.”

The league’s three Christmas Day games in 2023 shattered records, with all three topping 27 million viewers.

In March, the NFL announced it would indeed play on Christmas Day this year despite the holiday falling in the middle of the week. The league then took the rights to the Christmas Day games to market, Netflix eventually landed the games on a three-year pact, announcing it would air two Christmas Day games in 2024 and at least one in both 2025 and 2026. The streamer is reportedly paying $75 million for each game this season.

Christmas falling on a Wednesday, as it does in 2024, represented a unique challenge for the league, resulting in the somewhat odd Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday schedule for the four teams playing on Christmas Day this year (Ravens, Steelers, Chiefs, Texans). North said that led to the Wednesday game being the first thing considered in this year’s schedule.

“The first exercise was ‘How do you play on a Wednesday?’ And we started relatively early in the process, ‘If you’re going to play Wednesday, you’ve got to play the previous Saturday. That’s akin to playing Sunday to Thursday like we do every other week of the year. So that Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday sequence is going to be challenging for a couple of teams, four teams, and we had to pick the right four teams.

“We had to find four teams that all played each other, that everybody had one home and one away, and they had to be four teams that we thought, here in May, could be counted on to hold down four national television windows in December. There’s no flexible scheduling coming for Saturday afternoon or Wednesday. …So actually those games were selected relatively early in the process. We didn’t lock in necessarily on those four teams, those four games, but how we were going to do it, we locked in on relatively early.

“Then, once we were going to do it, we showed the commissioner our plan and it became ‘Okay, we know we can solve this puzzle. Now, let’s take it to market and see if there’s interest from our broadcast partners.’ And like Hans hinted at, there was a lot of interest. It was a competitive bid. And obviously, we’re really excited to see where we go with Netflix here. But it was yet another challenge to an already really impossible puzzle.”

In future seasons, scheduling will be far easier for the league. As Schroeder mentioned, Christmas falls on a Thursday, one of the NFL’s now-standard broadcast days, in 2025. In 2026, Christmas will fall on a Friday, and it will occur on a Saturday in 2027. Those years won’t require drastic changes to the schedule.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.