- Amazon paid $50 million to win the exclusive rights to live stream 10 NFL Thursday Night Football games this season, according to Ad Age. Facebook, YouTube and last year's rights holder Twitter were also in the running; Twitter paid $10 million for a similar deal last year.
- While Twitter's live streams were open to anyone across the globe, Amazon's will be limited to subscribers of its Prime service, which has U.S. memberships numbering 65 million.
- Amazon will have ad inventory available in the streamed games and it's expected that at least some of those spots will be used to promote Amazon's original Prime video programming.
Having long moved past its e-commerce label, Amazon continues to grow its stable of entertainment offerings in the over-the-top space and also its considerable advertising business. The competition between big-name digital platforms for the NFL streaming rights points to how fans of major sports leagues are coveted because they are loyal viewers. Amazon is likely betting it can attract new users into its Prime service by offering the NFL games.
Last year, Twitter won out over Amazon and Verizon for the same streaming rights, with reports suggesting the NFL opted for the micro-blogging site given its social reach. In this year's bidding, however, Twitter was seen as a long shot given how much live streaming has exploded over the past 12 months and also because Facebook and YouTube were in consideration.
Both Facebook and YouTube have considerably larger user bases than Twitter does, and also more established video infrastructure. Amazon came into the process from last year’s bid and also a new emphasis on sports deals for its Prime service.
The streams being limited to Prime members adds an interesting wrinkle to the equation. While anyone could tune into the Twitter broadcasts, the NFL is potentially limiting its reach here but also might engage a more dedicated, targeted audience with Amazon.
As Ad Age notes, CBS head Les Moonves recently said he expects digital properties like Facebook, Google and others to go head-to-head against traditional broadcast TV during the next bidding round for the rights to the NFL's entire slate of games in 2022. While Moonves seemed fairly confident TV would win that battle more broadly, it's clear the NFL has digital alternatives like Amazon at top of mind, especially as TV viewerships continue to dip.