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Report: NFL plans on 17th game for 2021 season

The NFL is going to expand the schedule by a week in 2021. We break down what this could mean from a TV and live stream perspective.

A general view of the NFL logo prior to a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on November 29, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The NFL has been working toward adding a 17th game to the regular season schedule, and it is expected to happen next year. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero are reporting the league is planning it for 2021, but an announcement might not come for several months as the league has to negotiate a new media contract. It would result in the Super Bowl getting bumped back a week in February.

The short term benefit to a 17th game in 2021 would be a boost in revenue in a year in which owners will claim COVID-19 losses force a lowered salary cap. The owners and players have negotiated the effects, but a 17th week of regular season revenue would theoretically boost the floor of the decrease.

There are a lot of options for broadcasting the extra week, but one that could make sense is a live streaming option. The league broadcasts all games on television in some format, but in Week 16, the league experimented with a primarily online stream broadcast of the 49ers-Cardinals game. The game was broadcast on local networks in the San Francisco and Phoenix markets, but otherwise was only available via stream on Amazon Prime and Twitch. This could be an experiment to eventually create a primarily live stream TV contract for a sub-set of games.