Amazon seeking exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football

Are you ready for some football? Amazon sure is – the corporate behemoth is in talks with the NFL to pay $1 billion for the exclusive rights to Thursday games starting in 2023. If an agreement is reached, Amazon would cover all the production costs. In addition, because the NFL would like Thursday night games to be televised on local TV for teams’ home markets, Amazon would be required to pay a local broadcaster to produce the games.

Amazon is hoping to build on its existing relationship with the NFL, which is reportedly valued at around $100 million. The two parties’ existing three-year deal enables Amazon to broadcast 12 games – with one game exclusively each year – through the 2022 season. The sticking point for the NFL is that it operates its own NFL Network, which is typically part of lucrative pay-TV packages and obligates the NFL to broadcast a certain number of games on the network.

If a deal is signed, one possible solution would be for Amazon’s Thursday games to be simulcast on the NFL Network, or Amazon and the NFL could agree to split Thursday’s games between them. The NFL is also in the process of securing deals with its existing partners – Disney (owner of ESPN and ABC), Fox, ViacomCBS, and NBCUniversal – for Sunday and Monday night games.

“The NFL has good reason to expand into the streaming marketplace, where a growing number of Americans consume their entertainment,” said Brett Sappington, Vice President at Interpret. “Not only are other content producers shifting focus to online delivery, but the demand for exclusive content has never been higher.”

Sports are regularly some of the most sought-after content, by both fans and networks, and Amazon must be very pleased with the results it has seen so far with its current NFL deal if it is willing to open the piggybank for $1 billion.

According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, NFL games are the most popular sport among Amazon Prime subscribers, with 33% of Prime members regularly following the league, compared to 23% for baseball, and even fewer for other professional sports. Considering the NFL’s ability to attract major sponsorships, Amazon is likely hopeful that some of the big brand advertising could translate to e-commerce sales for those brands on its online shopping platform. Of course, the NFL will also bolster the overall value proposition and stickiness of Amazon’s already immensely popular Prime shopping subscription.