People speculated that when Jerry Jones signed Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to his big four-year contract, it was tipping off the new TV deal. Sure enough, they were right as the league agreed to an 11-year contract worth $113 billon. Now this deal doesn’t kick in until 2023 so no changes below will come into effect until that point. Already, some fans are scratching their heads about some of the details.
With regard to Monday Night Football, games will have the flex option beginning in Week 12. We already see this with Sunday Night Football but the change is a welcome sight for Monday’s primetime slot should teams see their fortunes different than anticipated when the schedule came out. Also, usually we only see doubleheaders on Monday during the opening week of the season (or due to COVID-19 rescheduling in 2020). Now, there will be three scheduled doubleheaders throughout the season. One game will air on ESPN with the other airing on ABC.
The big issue that fans are already pointing out is the transition to some games being played exclusively on internet streaming services. In the past, Thursday Night Football alternated between the NFL Network and Amazon Prime. The streaming service will be the sole place to watch Thursday Night Football starting in 2023. However, the games will also be available on-air in the home markets of the two teams that are playing.*
The Thursday Night Football news is significant for Buffalo Bills fans living in Rochester, NY. While a significant percentage of the team’s fanbase lives in Rochester, it is not considered the team’s home/primary market and, thus, games will not be available over the air. You’ll need Amazon Prime if Buffalo is on Thursday.
Amazon won’t be the only streaming service to get games as one international game will be airing only on ESPN+, and NBC’s Peacock will be able to stream one game per season. This could bring headaches to bars that normally air these primetime games if they don’t have the streaming services.
When the contract kicks in there will be changes to the rotation of networks airing the Super Bowl. ABC will now be put into the rotation for the first time since 2006—they’re set to air the big game in 2026 and 2030.
Lastly, the following news has an impact on the NFL itself because it was mentioned that a new media deal was needed for the league to push forward on a 17-game regular season. At the league’s annual meeting set for March 30-31 this will be discussed further.