Netflix's NFL Deal Is Huge For Streaming, But It's Just Another Butt-Fumble To Longtime Fans Like Me

 Rob Gronkowski on stage during The Roast Of Tom Brady.

On Thanksgiving Day 2012, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez made history for all the wrong reasons. In a desperate shuffle to make a play, Sanchez collided with the butt of his own offensive lineman, causing him to fumble the ball and it be returned by the New England Patriots for a touchdown. It's an all-time NFL moment, especially during the holidays, though it may not be remembered quite as much as this recent deal for the organization. Netflix's new deal to host games on Christmas may be a huge deal for the streamer and organization, but it's the equivalent of a butt-fumble for longtime fans like me.

As streamers continue to ink large sporting deals across the board, it looks like the NFL will require many of those who want to watch a couple of games on Christmas to have a Netflix subscription. Deadline reported the streamer, which recently hosted a much-acclaimed live roast of NFL legend Tom Brady, will stream two games on Christmas 2024 and host at least one holiday game over the next three years. Here's why that's far more ideal for companies than fans.

Many Families Travel To Other Homes During The Holidays, And The Ones I Go To Don't Have Netflix

I can't speak to what goes on in other households, but whether it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, sports are on television. It's part of the tradition, except for maybe this year, as I realize I'll be at my grandmother's, and she does not have a smart television or net-tethered devices. No smart television means no Netflix, which, of course, will now mean no yuletide football or the potential to watch the latest chapter of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift's relationship unfold under some mistletoe.

For others who find themselves at the house of someone who isn't part of the masses cutting the cord, mobile devices are an obvious option. Though that route has an addendum that requires an NFL+ account. Or, I guess we could just go without football for the day, but that feels just as un-American to me as not watching the marathon of A Christmas Story.

The NFL Season Is Split Among Multiple Services As Is

Right now, the 2024 NFL season is all over the place. For those not keeping track at home, there are quite a few places where games will be available this season, and if you don't have the service it's on, you might just miss out. Take a look at the streaming deals negotiated so far for the upcoming season:

  • Peacock will stream a Week 1 game taking place in San Paolo.

  • Amazon Prime will get a NFL wildcard game as well as retaining rights to Thursday Night Football.

  • Netflix will host 2 Christmas Day games.

  • ESPN+ will host one game.

  • Those who live outside of the broadcasting market of their favorite team must subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket to watch.

Fortunately, in the case of local fans of those participating teams, they'll be able to see the Peacock, Netflix, and NFL wildcard games in local markets. The same is not true of Thursday Night Football, which is exclusively on prime. If you're someone who wants to have access to the entire NFL season, you might be shelling out some money this upcoming year.

Patrick Mahomes Gets Real About Taylor Swift Bringing More 'Revenue' And 'Buzz' To The NFL

From left to right: Taylor Swift in the Bejeweled music video and Patrick Mahomes holding an NFL microphone after winning 2024's Super Bowl.
From left to right: Taylor Swift in the Bejeweled music video and Patrick Mahomes holding an NFL microphone after winning 2024's Super Bowl.

There's no denying her aura. 

It's hard to point a finger at the streamers for taking advantage of using live events to retain and encourage subscriptions, and Netflix definitely isn't the only one exploiting that option with specials like the Roast of Tom Brady. Amazon's foothold on the live sporting market grew this year, and Apple TV+ has made its own pushes for live sports. Hell, even Paramount+ made the Super Bowl available on streaming last year, so it's clear there's a big interest in moving sports to the digital realm as quickly as possible.

My issue is with how they're being parsed out as exclusives, and the fact that I'm already paying hundreds of dollars to watch my team on YouTube TV, while also dealing with a growing needing to hold onto other services to watch elsewhere. It's beginning to feel like being an NFL fan at home is as costly an endeavor as going to a game or two.

When streaming subscription prices are shooting up across the board, it's a shame to feel like NFL fans are being priced out of getting the most from a season. Live sporting events are already pretty profitable. Do owners need these exclusivity deals to push costs to fans further?

Netflix is picking up NFL games regardless of how I feel about it, of course, and games will be hosted on Amazon Prime and Peacock in the upcoming 2024-2025 season. Fortunately, there's no shortage of great shows on the 2024 TV schedule to check out for those who might be unable to watch a game or two this season, so check out what's on the way.