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NFL executive explains Jets’ prime-time schedule

The New York Jets landed a record number of prime-time games through the first three months of the 2024 season as the appeal of four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers was too big to ignore, the NFL admitted THURSDAY.

“Yes, there are an awful lot of prime-time games early in the season, but, obviously, I feel like the Jets owe us one,” said Mike North, vice president of broadcast partners of the NFL, during a video conference with journalists. .

The Jets play six night games in the first 11 weeks, the most for any team since the 1970 merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The NFL and its television networks took a gamble on the Jets last season — five prime-time games — but that backfired when Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in the first week.

“When we had this conversation a year ago, we were — all of us — all in on the Jets, and for this guy to last four games was discouraging to a lot of us,” North said. “I feel like we could go back, and certainly our broadcast partners, when they came to us early in the process to talk to us about the storylines that they wanted to focus on at the start of the season, obviously the Aaron Rodgers’ return was key for everyone.

North said the Jets were a “fiery” team even without Rodgers — they finished 7-10 — adding that they improved their roster this offseason. The 40-year-old quarterback, removed from surgery at eight months, is healthy and participating in offseason drills without any restrictions, according to the Jets.

The Jets have two games Monday night (ESPN/ABC), two games Sunday night (NBC) and two games Thursday night (Prime Video). They open the “Monday Night Football” program, facing the San Francisco 49ers on September 9. They might have more prime-time dates at the end of the season because of schedule flexibility, North said.

“I hope he stays healthy and hopefully they’re relevant,” North said.

In other calendar and television-related developments, the NFL said it will host two games in 2025 on Christmas Day, which falls on a Thursday. There will be a Netflix game in the afternoon and a Prime game in the evening, depending on the league.

Netflix is ​​streaming two games this Christmas, which falls on a Wednesday: the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Houston Texans. Netflix will also stream at least one game in 2026 as part of the three-year deal announced Wednesday.

Commenting on the 2024 schedule, Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s executive vice president of media distribution, said the league is excited about the broadcast debut of Tom Brady, Fox Sports’ new lead analyst. The seven-time Super Bowl champion is also trying to acquire a minority stake in the Las Vegas Raiders, raising the question of a possible conflict of interest.

Schroeder said there are no restrictions on the plays Brady can work.

“At this time, Tom does not own the Raiders, and as we move into this year, Tom is able to call any game on the schedule,” he said.

League officials also addressed some quirks of this year’s schedule. For example, the Chicago Steelers and Bears don’t begin divisional play until Week 11, ending the schedule with six of their final eight games against teams from the AFC North and NFC North, respectively. It wasn’t intentional, North said.

“It’s like a college basketball schedule with the non-conference games first,” North said. “It wasn’t intentional, but again, it wasn’t necessarily something that we looked at and found to be unfair.”

North said it was “probably something we would look at in the future. But, again, (it’s) not necessarily a disqualification.”

Neither of the two Christmas Day games are broadcast in prime time. Steelers-Chiefs kicks off at 1 p.m., followed by Ravens-Texans at 4:30 p.m. This decision was made following market research and keeping the international audience in mind.

“Initially we had kind of looked at replicating what we do in divisional and championship games and looking at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. type kicks,” Schroeder said. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the market – even before we get into Netflix’s view of the world – that on Christmas Day, for those who celebrate this holiday, you arrive at 8 p.m., you have dinner, you get in some journeys you get into other things.

“…Then building on Netflix’s point of view, with the global first mentality, going to 1 p.m. would be the right window for us, another game at 4:30 p.m. that day for our global fans whole. We thought this was the right window to solve.”

ESPN’s Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.

News Source : www.espn.com
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