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Netflix inks deal to stream its first NFL games on Christmas Day

Netflix will stream its first NFL games on Christmas Day.

The streaming giant announced Wednesday that it will feature both Dec. 25 matchups scheduled for this year, with at least one other Christmas game coming in 2025 and 2026.

“Last year, we decided to take a big bet on live — tapping into massive fandoms across comedy, reality TV, sports and more,” Bela Bajaria, Netflix chief content officer, said in a statement. “There are no live annual events, sports or otherwise, that compare with the audiences NFL football attracts. We’re so excited that the NFL’s Christmas Day games will be only on Netflix.”

The announcement is a seismic moment in the media landscape, bringing together the biggest streaming platform and the most lucrative U.S. sports league. Terms of the deal were not made public.

The NFL had not yet announced who will be playing on Christmas as of Wednesday morning. The 2024 season matchups are being revealed throughout the day.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be the first professional sports league to partner with Netflix to bring live games to fans around the world,” Hans Schroeder, NFL executive vice president of media distribution, said in a statement. “The NFL on Christmas has become a tradition and to partner with Netflix, a service whose biggest day of the year is typically this holiday, is the perfect combination to grow this event globally for NFL fans.”

The Christmas 2024 games will also air on broadcast TV in the competing teams’ cities, and will also be available on mobile devices via NFL+.

Netflix has been working to break into live sports, though so far has only hosted one-off events in tennis, golf and a boxing match between Mike Tyson and YouTube star Jake Paul on July 20. And starting in January 2025, it will be home to WWE’s weekly ‘Raw’ series.

But the NFL games signal Netflix is willing to pay big money to land what remains the most consistent ratings driver in America.

It also continues Netflix’s push into overall live broadcasting. In the last month, the streaming giant “aired” a live Tom Brady Roast, as well as its six-part live comedy special “John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in L.A.”

The announcement also signals an expansion of the large roster of entities now broadcasting professional football, a list that also includes Amazon, which maintains exclusive rights to all Thursday night games; the NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock, which exclusively hosted a playoff game last year and is now set to show the league’s first game in Brazil on Sept. 6; as well as traditional partners Fox, CBS and NBC. (NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC and NBC News.)

The Netflix deal comes as sports rights across the board change hands, with traditional broadcast companies now increasingly locked into battle with streaming platforms. Notably, the NBA is in intense negotiations for its next media partners, with bids reportedly surpassing $2 billion.

Regional Major League Baseball rights are also in limbo amid a dispute between Bally Sports and Comcast (the owner of NBCUniversal) that saw the cable provider pull games from its platform earlier this month. In a world of dwindling returns to traditional TV formats, live sports continue to command reliably large audiences.

This post appeared first on NBC NEWS

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