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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.

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