The 2020 NFL season marked the first time in 11 years that there was a Friday game on the regular-season schedule and although the league has been hesitant to schedule Friday games, there soon could be an annual one added to the schedule.
During a recent interview with Peter King of NBC Sports, Patriots owner Robert Kraft threw out the possibility that the NFL might soon start scheduling a game on Black Friday. If that game were to happen, it would be streamed by Amazon, which will be taking over the "Thursday Night Football" package in 2023.
"Amazon wanted more from us, and they'll dedicate tremendous resources to make this work for them and for us," Kraft said of the partnership with the tech giant. "Who knows? Maybe we'll play a game on Black Friday, their biggest shopping day of the year."
Although Kraft didn't sound completely sure that the game would happen, it appears that a Black Friday game is actually written into Amazon's new contract with the NFL. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the league has the option to give Amazon a Black Friday game, which means it will be up to the NFL whether Amazon gets the game. The option was built into the contract as a favor to Amazon, who won't get to televise a Thursday game during Thanksgiving week. Although the tech company will get to exclusively stream Thursday night games starting in 2023, that won't include any of the three games on Turkey Day, which will air on CBS, Fox and NBC.
With Amazon being the odd man out on Thanksgiving, that left them without a game that week, so giving the company a potential Black Friday game became an option. Although a Black Friday game might not sound like a great idea -- because everyone is out shopping and not watching television -- the fact of the matter is that Black Friday is one of Amazon's biggest days of the year and if millions of people are on Amazon's website, there's a good chance they'll stop to watch a few minutes of the game.
Under normal circumstances, Friday has been the one day of the week that the NFL has generally tried to avoid. Under the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, the league isn't allowed to televise any games on Friday or Saturday from the second weekend in September thru the second weekend in December (Those two days have been earmarked for high school and college football). It's unclear how the NFL would get around this, but it would potentially have two options: For one, Amazon might be an exception to the rule since the game would technically be streaming (and not televised). Also, under the current antitrust exemption rules, the NFL is ALLOWED to schedule a Friday game as long as it's over before 6 p.m. local time, so a Black Friday game that kicks off somewhere between noon and 2 p.m. ET would likely work.
Since 1970, the NFL has only played a total of 11 Friday games, including the the Vikings-Saints game that was played on Christmas during the 2020 season. Before that game, the last time the NFL played on a Friday came in 2009 (There have only been four Friday games this century).
If the NFL does move forward with a Friday game, it wouldn't happen until 2023 as part of the new television deal. If you want read about 10 more big changes that could be coming when the new TV deal kicks in, be sure to click here.