Amazon will kick of its fourth season of NFL Thursday Night Football digital/streaming rights this week, when 43-year-old quarterback legend Tom Brady and his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, visit Solider Field, home of the Chicago Bears at 8:20 p.m. EST.
Amazon is starting the first year of a three-year extension signed in April with the league that will keep TNF on the digital platform through the 2022 season. Terms of that deal weren’t disclosed, but Amazon is reportedly paying "more" than the $65 million per season it ponied up for the 2018 and 2019 TNF campaigns.
Amazon will once again stream the games free to anyone on Twitch, a popular destination for watching live-streams of online video games that has evolved as an effective general-purpose live-streaming platform for Amazon.
“We believe we are in the middle of a big change in sports viewing,” said Marie Donoghue, VP of global sports video at Amazon, speaking to Variety. “Consumption is switching to mobile and OTT. My job is pretty easy: I just have to find out how to use sports to make Prime membership more valuable for our customers.”
While its broadcast partners pay it handsome sums of licensing money, the National Football League has aggressively split the lentil when it comes to Thursday Night Football—FOX will get the broadcast rights, while the NFL Network will show games under cable rights. Amazon’s “streaming rights” will give it only one exclusive game, which still hasn’t been announced.
Notably, to stand out among the various viewing choices, Amazon is implementing some fairly nifty new viewing features:
> On-demand replays: Viewers with Amazon Prime Video membership will have access to a new feature, called X-Ray, that lets them access replays as they become available during the game on-demand. Watchers will need to be using an Amazon Fire TV OTT device, or an Android or iOS smart phone. (The feature will be enabled for web browsers later this season.)
> NFL-themed shows on Twitch: Also new this season, Amazon is partnering with NFL Films to create a lineup of original NFL-themed content. This includes Monday afternoon studio show The NFL Comment Box with hosts Kyle Long and Andrew Hawkins. Long will also join another former player, Chad Johnson for Wednesday evening show The NFL Machine, in which they’ll analyze game highlights and lowlights.
> Scout’s feed — Prime members can switch out of the live announcer feed and tune into a feed featuring former NFL scouts turned podcasters Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, alongside veteran broadcaster Joy Tayler. This is feature is being added to one implemented several seasons ago—multiple announcer feeds, which gives viewers a choice between the play-by-play team of Hanna Storm and Andrea Kremer, or the FOX Broadcast duo of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
Here’s Amazon’s full Thursday Night Football schedule:
Oct. 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears
Oct. 15: Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Oct. 22: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Oct. 29: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Nov. 5: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
Nov. 12: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Nov. 19: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
Dec. 3: Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens
Dec. 10: New England Patriots at Los Angeles Rams
Dec. 17: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec. 25: Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (Friday game)
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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