- Amazon, YouTube and Twitter are considering bidding on the streaming rights to the NFL's "Thursday Night Football" programming this year, Bloomberg reported citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. The bids could be as high as hundreds of millions of dollars for retaining the rights for up to five years, the publication said.
- 21st Century Fox currently has the TV rights for Thursday night games through 2022. The NFL is selling the digital streaming rights to complement its broadcast deals, where the tech companies would stream games carried on regular TV. Amazon acquired the streaming rights in 2017 for $50 million. For next season, Fox would also stream the games on its digital channels.
- With viewership continuing to decline, the NFL wants to partner with tech companies to offer interactive streaming, along with social media commentary and statistics, per Bloomberg. Media executives have said there are too many games in too many places, but the NFL has been able to retain hefty prices for TV rights, with. Fox paying more than $3 billion for its deal.
Amazon will be the one to beat for securing NFL streaming rights for the coming year and potentially several years in the future. The Seattle-based giant paid out $50 million for the rights in 2017, along with a reported $30 million in free marketing and promotions for the NFL. With the prior deal, Amazon topped Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with a bid 5x higher than what Twitter shelled out two seasons ago for the same package. However, Amazon is mulling whether to drop out of the running this year due to changes in the NFL's proposal requests, a source told Bloomberg.
The coming deal for "Thursday Night Football" programming lasting for up to five years would raise the stakes significantly this year, as the market for digital sports media is expected to ramp up as TV viewership continues to decline, with NFL content acting as prime real estate.
Among sports fans, 81% still subscribe to pay TV, but of those, 82% would trim or cut the cord if it weren't for sports and would be willing to pay $23 per month for unlimited live sports on any platform, according to a PwC survey. Even as overall viewership slips, people still watch sports, just not as often and in shorter intervals. However, viewers increasingly want interactive sports content, such as the ability to chat with friends and access to interviews and other related content.
Increased streaming opportunities around sports content would be welcome news for marketers. Just as the NFL is seeing the need for multi-platform content, brands have been increasingly relying on multichannel campaigns rather than a 30-second TV buy alone. This was evident during the Super Bowl, as several advertisers such as M&M's released their ads early on social media and then followed them up online after the game.