Black Friday eventually could become an NFL gameday

Mike Florio
·2 min read
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As the NFL creates a broadcasting strategy that more accurately reflects ever-changing consumption habits, the rise of Amazon as a home for NFL games and the ongoing dominance of Amazon when it comes to worldwide shopping habits create an obvious opportunity for a new day on the NFL’s calendar.

Black Friday.

The day after Thanksgiving, the traditional launch of the holiday shopping season, could see an NFL game on Amazon, with viewers able to make purchases during the commercial breaks. Or possibly while watching the game.

“Amazon wanted more from us, and they’ll dedicate tremendous resources to make this work for them and for us,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Peter King of Football Morning in America. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll play a game on Black Friday, their biggest shopping day of the year.”

Such a possibility comes with various hurdles. If the teams in a Black Friday game played the prior Sunday, that’s a five-day gap between games. If those teams have a Thursday-after-Sunday game elsewhere in the season, a competitive imbalance can arise, since those teams would have more short-week games than other teams. (In 2020, the Vikings and Saints played on a Friday, but the two teams didn’t otherwise have a Sunday-Thursday game that year.)

The approach also presents a potential political/legal problem. The broadcast antitrust exemption prevents the NFL from televising games on Fridays and Saturdays from Labor Day weekend through the middle of December, as protection for high school and college football. If the game isn’t televised (including in the local markets of the teams involved), a streaming-only option could provide an end run around the exception to the broadcast antitrust exemption.

That may not be a bridge the league wants to cross, however. Arguing that the exception to the broadcast antitrust exemption doesn’t apply to streaming could invite an argument that the exemption itself doesn’t apply to streaming, setting the stage for litigation by streaming companies against the league for selling streaming rights as a league-wide package, and not on a team-by-team basis.

In short, Black Friday — a term started by retail employees as something bad that has morphed via time and P.R. into something good — could start as something good for the NFL and end up via time and legal rulings into something bad.

Black Friday eventually could become an NFL gameday originally appeared on Pro Football Talk