The NFL was forced to delay its release of the 2020 regular-season schedule to last May because of difficulties linked with the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's full schedule will be unveiled next Wednesday, and it appears football fans will have a new annual tradition to anticipate following each NFL Draft.
Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal reports that the NFL will continue holding schedule-release events in May moving forward. This will allow the league and broadcasters to see which teams select which big-name rookies in drafts and then plan accordingly. The updated timeframe also gives the NFL another massive television event during a month that previously wasn't on football-related calendars except for years when drafts were held in May.
"It’s always been about pushing ourselves to innovate, to create more meaningful engagement and tentpole type events during the offseason," NFL Senior VP/Club Business Development Bobby Gallo said about the league's handling of the schedule release. "We believe that by strategically doing it after draft, we give ourselves a better opportunity to do that."
Additionally, NFL teams have been permitted to publish their schedules at 7:45 p.m. ET, 15 minutes before NFL Network begins its "Schedule Release" broadcast. Clubs were given 30-minute head starts last May.