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The NFL’s new television deals may impact how often the Cowboys are on certain networks in 2023

Get ready for a lot of potential FOX action.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It is not difficult to watch a Dallas Cowboys game on television.

Now to be fair it has technically become a bit more arduous to keep up with the number of ways that NFL games, all sports really, are broadcast on television. Football, unlike baseball or basketball for example, is absent of a regional sports network that covers it on a regular basis. Where you live is still a factor in terms of what games are broadcast to your area, but the Cowboys are generally accessible by a majority of homes in the United States because of their popularity and how much network partners want to broadcast them.

Occasionally the Cowboys are on national television which appeals to the entire country. The Sunday Night Football broadcasts are on NBC and the Monday Night Football ones are on ESPN (with some ABC involvement). Dallas was on SNF three times in 2022, MNF one time, and Thursday Night Football (now on Amazon) once in the penultimate week of the regular season.

Of their remaining 12 games last season the Cowboys, an NFC team, spent a majority of their time on FOX. It was back in the final days of 1993 that FOX became a player in NFL television rights and took with it the NFC package which obviously includes the Cowboys.

Dallas played 9 games in total on FOX last season, 10 if you count the Divisional Round playoff game, while spending 3 games under the watchful eye of CBS.

That could be changing in 2023.

The 2023 NFL season will bring with it the elimination of the traditional NFC/AFC package

For almost 30 years FOX has held the rights to the majority of Dallas Cowboys games as noted, partly because of Dallas being an NFC team and because of the Cowboys games against other NFC squads. There are exceptions that are a part of the more minute details of television deals, but you get the 30,000-foot perspective.

You may recall that the NFL signed new television deals with their broadcast partners back in 2021 and while that was when the deals took place they do not go into effect until this coming season. One wrinkle to the new deals is that the traditional NFC/AFC format no longer exists for FOX and CBS.

From the Sports Business Journal back in 2021:

Starting in ‘23, Fox and CBS will identify a specific number of teams that it wants to carry for a specific minimum of games. It is not known how many teams or games are part of this process, which will occur at some point before the official schedule release. Because it has the NFC package, Fox will only pick NFC teams, which will mean that Fox is likely to carry more Cowboys and Packers games than other networks. CBS will pick AFC teams, which, at least in the near term, means a heavy dose of the Chiefs and Steelers. Those games will come from anywhere on the schedule. There will be no such thing as a traditional Fox-NFC or CBS-AFC game as in years past. For decades, Fox would carry any game with two NFC teams or any interleague game where the NFC team was on the road. CBS had the AFC games, including any game where the AFC was on the road. Under the new deal, those designations will be stripped away, essentially making all 272 games free agents. The NFL pushed for this switch to give its schedule makers more flexibility. For the past several seasons, it has used the cross-flex option to make sure that it had a highly rated matchup in the late Sunday afternoon window.

While the traditional format (putting an NFC-NFC game on FOX, an AFC-AFC game on CBS) is gone this new one makes it seem like the Cowboys could be a prized possession of FOX with how the network will be able to carry a specific minimum amount of their games. Other top-tier NFC teams with high-profile ratings (Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers) will likely be included as well, but everybody knows that the Cowboys are the crown jewel of attention in the NFL.

If FOX does indeed prioritize say the Cowboys and the Eagles then we could be seeing even more games for the team on the network than we have in the past. There will certainly be outliers and exceptions as always, consider that the Buffalo Bills will likely be a top choice of CBS and that they host the Cowboys in 2023. With Dallas as the road team in that matchup that game would have traditionally been on FOX, but if CBS lays claim to all Bills matchups then it may indeed be on their airwaves.

Ultimately most fans probably don’t care a great deal about what network their team is playing on, they just want to be able to watch the game and enjoy it; however, it appears that you may need to make sure you are very familiar with what channel FOX is for you in your area if you weren’t aware already.

What’s more is that the Cowboys will likely be drawing the number one FOX crew (Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen and Erin Andrews as of now) for a lot of these games so they will be the voices behind a lot of Cowboys contests.

We are now in the month of April so we should be getting news of the schedule soon (it came out in May last year for context) and we will have our answer then.

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