With 2022 European games, NFL fully embraces Sunday morning window

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Folks in Seattle aren’t thrilled with the fact that their local team will be playing a game against the Buccaneers in Germany that starts at 6:30 am PT. But that’s what happens when the NFL becomes determined to expand the number of windows for NFL games.

All four of the 2022 European games land in the 9:30 am ET/6:30 am PT time slot this year, an unprecedented number of Sunday mornings that feature football — and not preach me shows talking about football. While those shows will go on, most football fans will choose to watch, you know, football games.

It’s no surprise. The ongoing growth of legalized wagering, and the inevitable deployment of technologies that allow wagers to be made in real time prior to any and every play in a given game, will compel the NFL to spread a given weekend’s games out, as much as possible. That’s why Monday doubleheaders could eventually become a commonplace occurrence. Ditto for Tuesday and Wednesday night games.

Ideally, the league would play one game at a time. It will be virtually impossible, however, to pull that off.

The NFL nevertheless can stretch the current number of windows per week (five) into something more than that, with one on Thursday, four on Sunday, two on Monday, one on Tuesday, and one on Wednesday. That’s nine weekly windows for up to 16 games. Throw in the bye weeks, and there wouldn’t be many simultaneous games in the Sunday afternoon windows.

And don’t forget the seemingly inevitable Black Friday game on Amazon. With the broadcast antitrust exemption not jeopardized unless and until games after played after 6:00 pm ET on Fridays, the league could embrace the weekly “Football Friday” national broadcast, with a game that starts at 2:00 pm ET, and that people watch (and wager on) while at work or school or wherever on their phones.

Bottom line? A league that has already found a way to cram as much cheese as possible into the pizza will be looking for more nooks and crannies. The decision to cram four Sunday games into an early-season window — even if folks in Seattle will have to get up extra early to watch — underscores the commitment to spread the weekly games out as much as possible.

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