NFL Broadcast Changes Bring Betting to Center
The NFL has seen various broadcasting changes over the years, now in position to feed the fantasy gamers and bettors.
As the 2023 NFL season approaches, get ready to watch and bet on more football games. It’s not your fault, it’s by design. Every year the NFL finds additional ways to pack more prime-time games into the schedule.
More prime-time games equals more viewership, which equals more revenue. With sports betting now legal in more than 35 states, more betting is coming.
NFL Change Over Time
When I began watching the NFL in 1992, there were six divisions, 28 teams, 17 weeks of regular season, 224 regular season games and 11 playoff games (235 NFL games in total).
Instant replay, which was introduced in 1986, was exiled due to concerns over the disruption to the flow of the game and was subsequently reinstated in 1999. The NFL played three exhibition games (although no regular season games) outside of the United States in Tokyo, Berlin and London.
Fast forward 31 years to the 2023 NFL season, there are now eight divisions, 32 teams, 18 weeks of regular season games and 13 playoff games (285 NFL games in total), that’s an increase of 21% in the total number of NFL games played compared to 1992.
In 1992, prime-time games were limited to Sunday night, Monday night and Thanksgiving. Over the 224 regular season games that year, 43 were played in these prime-time slots, or 19.2% of all regular season games.
In 2023, the number of regular season prime-time games will increase to 72 (26.5% of all regular season games). There will be 29 additional prime-time games when compared to the 1992 season, an increase of 67% and nearly one additional prime-time game added per year on average.
The NFL has been busy finding new and creative ways to add these 29 additional prime-time games. Why shouldn’t it? Live sports are more valuable than ever, and the NFL has ample broadcasting partners eager to broadcast them.
In 1992, NFL games were broadcast on ABC (MNF), CBS (NFC), NBC (AFC) with TNT and ESPN splitting the SNF slate half and half. In 2023 the NFL will be broadcast in some fashion on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, Prime Video, Peacock, NFL Network and Nickelodeon.
- 2004: Adding a second Christmas Day game, which has been dependent on the day of the week Christmas occurs (two games played in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2016, 2017, 2021)
- 2005: The first regular season NFL game was held outside of the US, in Mexico City drawing 100,000+ fans. In 2023 there will be five international games, three in London and two in Frankfurt (Azteca Stadium in Mexico City is not available this year due to renovations ahead of the 2026 World Cup).
- 2006: Adding the ‘Run to the Playoffs’ package which included five Thursday games and three Saturday games towards the end of the season (there will be five games played on Saturday in 2023)
- 2006: A third Thanksgiving Day game was added to the traditional two (one hosted by Detroit since 1934 and a second hosted by Dallas since 1966)
- 2012: Adding a Thursday night game to every week of the season (except the final week of the season)
- 2017: Adding a MNF week 1 doubleheader (gone in 2023, replaced with three MNF doubleheaders in weeks 2, 3 and 14)
- 2021: Expanding to an eighteen week, seventeen game regular season
- 2022: Adding a third Christmas Day game (there will also be three in 2023). Christmas Day games remain dependent on the timing of Christmas although given the recent success it would not be surprising if Christmas games are eventually here to stay. The NBA which has owned Christmas with marquee matchups since its second season in 1947 was dominated by the NFL in 2022, with NFL games averaging ~23 million viewers to the NBA’s ~4 million.
- 2023: Debuting the first ever Black Friday game
With 72 prime-time games in 2023, not to mention the dependable Sunday slate of football games, don’t be surprised when you find yourself watching more football all while sweating the seemingly endless number of important games for your fantasy teams, survivor and pick’em contests.
Remember it’s not your fault, it’s by design.
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