Amazon has won the bidding war for streaming rights to NFL Thursday Night football games, but the cost could be significantly more than what Twitter paid last year.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the NFL and Amazon have reached a $50 million deal for 10 Thursday Night Football games. Last year, Twitter won the right to stream the same number of TNF games for $10 million.
The major difference will be that Twitter streamed the games for free on its social media platform and Amazon will reportedly make the games available only for its Amazon Prime Video subscribers who pay the $99 per year fee.
Amazon will make the games available to all of its international subscribers in more than 200 countries as well as for its U.S.-based subscribers.
“We are continually looking for ways to deliver our games to fans wherever they watch, whether on television or on digital platforms and we are thrilled to bring Thursday Night Football to Amazon”, said Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer for the NFL, in a statement. “As has been the case with all our streaming initiatives, we look forward to continuing to innovate with our partners as we learn the best ways to serve our fans both this season and into the future.”
Of course, the games will still be available for free through the joint broadcast agreement for CBS and NBC. While $50 million for Amazon is a premium over what Twitter paid, it’s still far less than the $450 million CBS and NBC are collectively paying for the same 10 games.
It’s unclear what matchups Amazon will be getting. The NFL will reportedly release its 2017 regular season schedule later this month.
No guarantees it can finish by then, but the NFL is aiming to release its 2017 regular-season schedule the week of April 17-21.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2017
Amazon’s victory in the battle for Thursday nights comes after reports suggested that the streaming service was up against Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for the rights. Since Amazon did indeed buy the rights, it suggests the company found a way to calm the NFL’s reported fears regarding whether Amazon would be able to sell all the ad inventory for the live streams.
NFL games are a major coup for Amazon which is not only competing with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for streaming rights but also battling giants like Netflix for SVOD market share both in the U.S. and internationally.
A high profile deal with the NFL would affirm Amazon’s aspirations to air live sports. In November last year, Amazon was reportedly scrounging for any leftover live sports rights it could find. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Prime Video operator was in talks with major sports leagues including the NFL, NBA, and MLB in hopes of securing rights to carry live games.
At that time, Amazon was reportedly also proposing options including an exclusive sports package that would be offered alongside its Prime Video service.
This article was updated with comment and further information from the NFL.