Amazon Hits Paydirt With NFL Streaming Deal

The National Football League on Wednesday made official its plans to stream a package of Thursday Night Football games via Amazon Prime during the upcoming season.

The deal will give Amazon access to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by NBC and CBS -- as well as NFL Network --that will be made available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers.

Last year social media site Twitter streamed the same package of Thursday night games as part of a deal reached with the league. According to published reports, Amazon is reported to have paid $50 million for the package compared to $10 million Twitter paid the league last year.

In return, the $99/year Amazon Prime streaming service adds valuable sports content to its lineup of original scripted series that includes Transparent,The Man In The High Castle and Mozart In The Jungle, as well as movies and other video content.

For the league, it’s getting a five-fold increase in the money Twitter paid for the same package of games. And while the games will no longer be available to anyone that could access the Twitter social media site – which is sure to disappoint cord-cutters -- the league still maintains its “tri-cast” model of broadcast (NBC/CBS), cable (NFL Network) and digital (Amazon) distribution without totally sacking linear network ratings for the games.

“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.

The deal marks the second Amazon/NFL programming announcement in as many weeks. On March 31,  the service announced the second season renewal of its NFL-based documentary series All or Nothing, which follows the Los Angeles Rams’ return to Los Angeles.

 Amazon senior vice president of business development and entertainment Jeff Blackburn said of the NFL streaming deal: “Our focus is on bringing customers the best premium video programming, when and how they want to watch it.  Streaming Thursday Night Football on Prime Video is a great step for us toward that vision, and offers tremendous new value for Prime members around the world.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.