The NFL will capitalize on Christmas Day falling on a Sunday.
The league will have three games on Dec. 25 for the first time: two in the afternoon on CBS and Fox, followed by a prime-time contest on NBC. NFL vice president of broadcasting Mike North revealed the tripleheader on a podcast hosted by WGR radio host and Buffalo Bills sideline reporter Sal Capaccio.
“Christmas, when it falls on an NFL game day, we’ve had a lot of success there, all due respect to our friends at the NBA. It is something that our friends are interested in,” North said. “If Christmas falls on a Sunday, it makes perfect sense.”
It will be the third straight year the league has played on Christmas. Last year, Green Bay’s 24-22 victory over Cleveland averaged 28.6 million viewers on Fox, making it the third-most-watched game of the 2021 regular season. Indianapolis’ 22-16 win at Arizona averaged 12.6 million on NFL Network, the second-highest-viewed game in network history.
For Week 16, the league will have its regular Thursday night game on Dec. 22. Eleven games will be on Dec, 24, including a night game on NFL Network. After the Christmas tripleheader, the week will close with a Monday night contest on Dec. 26.
There have been 24 NFL games played on Christmas Day, including two postseason contests in 1971. The most famous Dec. 25 game remains Miami’s 27-24 victory over Kansas City in double overtime in the AFC divisional round.
The NFL’s trio of games will put it in direct competition with the NBA, which has long had the day to itself. The NBA has played five games on each Dec. 25 for the last 14 seasons.
North added that the NFL will play at least two Christmas games on Dec. 25 when the holiday falls on a Monday.
This year’s Christmas games will be revealed the week of May 9. The league announced on Thursday that the complete schedule will be released on May 12. However, the first “Thursday Night Football” game on Prime Video will be unveiled during the first round of the NFL draft on April 28, and the international games on May 4.
By Joe Reedy, AP Sports Writer