Rumours have circulated for a while that the NFL regular season could increase to 17 weeks as a new collective bargaining agreement is due at the end of the 2020 season. And with talks progressing between the NFL and the NFLPA (NFL Players Association), this may become a reality for the 2021 season. So what is the big knock on effects of this for a league and player point of view?
TV revenue makes up a massive proportion of the overall NFL revenue. Currently, Fox pay over $3 billion a year to have exclusive rights to Thursday night games. ESPN pay the same for Monday night games. NBC, CBS and Fox agreed to pay nearly $40 billion to the NFL for shared rights of Sunday night football and the right to show the superbowl every three years through the 2022 season. Adding an extra week of football will only drive these contracts up next time they are up for grabs. This is likely the main reason for the NFL pushing this agenda.
An average NFL game brings in approximately $7.5 million from seat ticket sales. After all the overheads and wages are paid, approximately 8% or $600,000 remains as profit from one game. This does not include merchandise or food/drinks sold on the day. An additional opportunity to go see your team play is not going to be downvoted by the fans either. It is yet to be seen if this additional game would mean an extra home game every two years or will result in additional international games being played each year.
From a players point of view, the major concern is injuries. As we head into week 11 of the 2019 NFL season, the numbers heading to injury reserve continue to increase. Currently, there are 317 players on the injury reserve which accounts to 18% of the league. Countless more carry knocks or have been injured for a period of time. It seems that the NFL preseason will be reduced if an extra game week is added but multiple have pointed out the difference in intensity. With more and more serious health risks being identified from playing football, it will take alot for the NFLPA to agree to this addition week.
The benefits of an extra game would like mean an increase in player contracts. Also benefits like better care after retirement, better rookie deals and possibly an end to cannabis being classified as a banned substance. This could result in Josh Gordon being able to play a full season again.
To me, it seems that a 17 game season would mean potentially more player injuries and what ever knock on effect this has on the long term health of player’s. So if this is going to go ahead, the player’s will need to be receiving their fair share in return. I think i can safely say that all fans and owner’s will welcome the change however.