The 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, and this upcoming season will mark a new era of media rights for the league. We will have even more primetime slots, more games on streaming services, and yes, some more windows for flex scheduling.
This can all get confusing so let’s break it down as simply as possible!
Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime
- Teams can appear on TNF twice, effective in 2023. Previously there was a maximum of one appearance per team.
- A Black Friday game (aka the day after Thanksgiving) will occur for the first time.
- There is NO flex scheduling coming of TNF just yet, and ideally never.
Monday Night Football on ESPN/ABC
- There will be three “doubleheader” slates similar to what we saw in 2022, with one game on ESPN and then a main game on ABC, kickoff time separated by about 90 minutes. Chris Fowler, the play-by-play lead on college football, will be the secondary MNF voice.
- Flex scheduling is available for MNF from Weeks 12-17, similar to Sunday night. Games must be chosen at least 12 days in advance. Week 18 will still have two Saturday games flexed in, ideally with playoff seeding at stake.
- ESPN+ will continue to have one exclusive game per season that is technically under the MNF package. Last year it was the London matchup between the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars. The ESPN+ game is expected to remain an international game moving forward.
Sunday Night Football on NBC
- One SNF game per season under the new deal will be streamed exclusively on Peacock from 2023 to 2028.
NFL on FOX, NFL on CBS, and the end of conference alliances
No bullet point for this one. Back in 2021 when the new contracts were negotiated, the old standard of “FOX has the NFC package and CBS has the AFC package” has been mostly done away with. The Seattle Seahawks could be on CBS more often than usual despite being an NFC team, and the AFC’s New York Jets could have more FOX appearances this particular season.
Starting in ‘23, Fox and CBS will identify a specific number of teams that it wants to carry for a specific minimum of games. It is not known how many teams or games are part of this process, which will occur at some point before the official schedule release. Because it has the NFC package, Fox will only pick NFC teams, which will mean that Fox is likely to carry more Cowboys and Packers games than other networks. CBS will pick AFC teams, which, at least in the near term, means a heavy dose of the Chiefs and Steelers. Those games will come from anywhere on the schedule. There will be no such thing as a traditional Fox-NFC or CBS-AFC game as in years past. For decades, Fox would carry any game with two NFC teams or any interleague game where the NFC team was on the road. CBS had the AFC games, including any game where the AFC was on the road. Under the new deal, those designations will be stripped away, essentially making all 272 games free agents. The NFL pushed for this switch to give its schedule makers more flexibility. For the past several seasons, it has used the cross-flex option to make sure that it had a highly rated matchup in the late Sunday afternoon window.
The NFC and AFC playoff rights, however, remain unchanged.
- ESPN/ABC gets a Divisional Round matchup in addition to the Wild Card game they already receive.
- FOX, CBS, and NBC will alternate second Wild Card rights.
- ABC also gets into the Super Bowl rotation, starting with the 2026 season. The sequential Super Bowl order by network will be CBS (starting in 2023), FOX, NBC, and ABC, and the pattern repeats until further notice.
NFL Sunday Ticket
- There’s now only one RedZone, and Scott Hanson hosts it. The DirecTV version hosted by Andrew Siciliano is no more.
All clear? Hopefully so. The countdown is on to the schedule release!