NFL playing first 'Black Friday' game: Why is there a game on the Friday after Thanksgiving?


The NFL is starting a new schedule tradition in 2023 with the first “Black Friday” game that will be streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. The game will be streamed for free as part of a Black Friday “deal” presented by Amazon, so fans don’t have to subscribe to watch the contest between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. 

Why does the NFL have a “Black Friday” game in the first place? Money played a major factor, as Amazon missed an opportunity to broadcast a game on Thanksgiving in its $1 billion “Thursday Night Football” package. The NFL Thanksgiving Day games have separate rights in the league’s television contracts, being contracted to CBS, Fox, and NBC — so there was no share of the pie for Amazon. 

Amazon created the idea of having a game on “Black Friday” to coincide with its biggest shopping day of the year. Prime Video ended up paying $100 million to the NFL to have an annual game on “Black Friday” starting in 2023, banking they’ll make the money up with the numerous eyeballs tuning into the game (remember, a Prime Video subscription is not needed to watch Friday’s game). 

Is the NFL entering unchartered territory? The NFL has played games on Fridays, but they have been played on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day since 1999. The league did have a pair of Friday games on New Year’s Eve in 1993, which was also a holiday. The last time the NFL played games on a Friday that wasn’t on a holiday was in 1986, six days before Christmas on Dec. 19. 

Friday games were a fixture on the AFL schedule in the 1960s, with the league playing the last November Friday game in 1964 between the Boston Patriots and Denver Broncos. That game on Nov. 20 was six days before Thanksgiving. The last game played on Black Friday was between the Patriots and Buffalo Bills on Nov. 23, 1962. 

The last time the NFL played a game on a Friday that wasn’t in December was when the Los Angeles Rams played the St. Louis Cardinals to open the season on Sept. 18, 1970 — a game that started at 11 p.m. ET.

The plan is to have a “Black Friday” game every year. Like when the Thanksgiving night game was added in 2006 to NFL Network, this is the start of a new tradition on Friday afternoons that will likely stick. 





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