New Amazon football rights mark watershed moment for streaming TV
For the first time in history, the NFL said Thursday it agreed to license all of its Thursday Night Football games exclusively to a technology company, Amazon.
Why it matters: It's a major milestone for streaming. "To-date, no streaming platform has made a substantial sports rights acquisition," Rich Greenfield, partner at LightShed Ventures, wrote in an analyst note.
Details: Beginning in 2023, Amazon Prime Video will carry and produce the games for 10 years. It will shell out roughly $1 billion per year to the NFL, according to CNBC, totaling more $10 billion.
- The deal also expands traditional TV networks' rights to air games across their digital channels. ViacomCBS, Fox, NBCUniversal and Disney/ESPN will have the ability to air some exclusive games across their streaming services, Paramount+, Tubi, Peacock and ESPN+.
Be smart: The NFL and Amazon first began experimenting with a distribution partnership in 2017, when they struck a deal to allow Amazon to stream Thursday Night Football games non-exclusively for the following season.
- At the time, Amazon reportedly paid around $50 million for distribution rights. Twitter, which had the rights the year prior, reportedly paid $10 million.
The big picture: The broader set of NFL games will continue to air on traditional TV networks for the foreseeable future, helping prop up the struggling Pay-TV industry for at least a few more years.
- NFL games are usually the most-watched type of content on traditional television. Analysts predict that without sports rights, and particularly NFL rights, the entire Pay-TV ecosystem would crumble.
Yes, but: There are still fewer people watching games on live TV, which presents an enormous challenge for the League.
- This year's Super Bowl was watched by a total of 96.4 million viewers, its lowest audience in more than a decade.
- While the NFL has been experimenting with moving rights to digital platforms, there are sometimes latency and technical problems related to putting live sports on streaming platforms.
Go deeper: Pay TV's bleak post-pandemic outlook