NFL approves 17-game schedule and drops a preseason contest

  • The NFL will expand its season to 17 games.
  • The schedule change is the first since 1978 when the NFL added two games to its regular season. 

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The National Football League made it official on Tuesday, adding another game to its regular-season schedule.

Team owners voted in favor of the NFL expanding to 17 games starting with the 2021 season. The NFL had played a 16-game schedule since 1978 when it added two additional games. Then, the league removed two of its preseason games and will do something similar this time.

The NFL Players Association agreed to add another game when it reached its new 10-year collective bargaining agreement last year. As part of the added contest, the NFL will reduce its preseason from four to three games.

The NFL recently agreed to a new 11-year media rights agreement with media partners worth more than $100 billion. As part of its new $2.7 billion rights fee, Disney's ABC network will carry two Saturday games in Week 18. The network will receive a new divisional round playoff contest too.

With a 17th game and reformatted playoff tournament, networks will benefit from the added content to help pay for the doubled rights fees.

Advertising data firm MediaRadar estimated Fox alone generated approximately $2 billion in national advertising for its 2020 NFL games. The firm estimated the average ad spend around NFL games last season accounted for $15.23 million per contest. Hence, that ad revenue should increase with more games on the NFL's lineup.

NFL expands international series

The NFL also approved expanding its global games.

Each team will play at least once in the international series over the next eight years and the NFL can play four games per year in that span starting in 2022. The league wants to play more games in Mexico and the United Kingdom, and is exploring Germany as possible location, too.

NFL owners will vote Wednesday on guidelines around club marketing internationally which will allow teams to leverage their intellectual property outside the U.S.

In addition, Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder's $450 million debt request to help finance buying the remaining limited partnerships of the club is also scheduled for tomorrow.

The minority shares are worth $875 million according to The New York Times and the move would give Snyder complete control of the team he purchased in 1999. Owners of the minority shares include FedEx CEO Frederick Smith.

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