The NFL is reportedly on the verge of giving near-exclusive Thursday Night Football rights to Amazon Prime in a deal that could be worth up to $1 billion annually.
Neither the league nor the streaming service are commenting publicly on any negotiations. The Wall Street Journal reported the impending NFL-Amazon deal on Wednesday, although rumors of an enhanced partnership between the two parties have been circulating for some time.
Amazon pays between $75 million and $100 million to stream Thursday night games, according to the Wall Street Journal, but that deal is not exclusive and the games are simulcast on Fox and NFL Network. In the proposed deal, Amazon Prime’s Thursday night games would not be seen on broadcast television outside of the local markets of the teams that are playing.
The NFL is reportedly on the verge giving near-exclusive Thursday Night Football rights to Amazon Prime in a deal that could be worth up to $1 billion annually. In this file photo, New England Patriots’ Cam Newton completes a pass to Ryan Izzo who fumbles the ball which was recovered by the Denver Broncos during third quarter action on October 18
The NFL has been expected to announce a lucrative new media rights deal with CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC/ESPN this week or next. Fox, for instance, is reportedly expected to pay $2 billion a season for its Sunday afternoon games in its next contract with the NFL after paying just over $1 billion in its current deal.
Also, on Friday, Sports Business Journal reported that ESPN’s price for Monday Night Football would jump from $2 billion to $2.6 billion a season, but the league has since called the article ‘inaccurate.’
- ESPN/ABC: Monday night games for $1.9 billion (contract runs from 2014-2021)
- Fox: Sunday afternoon games for $1.1 billion a season and Thursday night games for $660 million (2014-2022)
- CBS: Sunday afternoon games for $1 billion a season (2014-2022)
- NBC: Sunday night football games for $950 million a season (2014-2022)
(Contracts also include rights to postseason games, the NFL Draft, and, in some cases, the Super Bowl)
The Amazon Prime deal would not take effect until the 2024 season, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Amazingly, NFL’s media rights prices appear to be soaring as the league ratings have suffered a slight downtick. Audience numbers declined for the regular season and postseason, although seven of the United States’ ten most-watched television broadcasts of 2020 were NFL games.
Fox is now reportedly paying $660 million per season to air Thursday night games. That deal runs through the 2023 season, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon’s current streaming deal also reportedly has two more seasons left.
Thursday night has traditionally presented a problem for the NFL and its broadcast partners.
In December, Sports Business Journal reported that networks told the league that they’re uninterested in buying Thursday Night Football broadcasts without exclusivity.
It’s not that the ratings have been bad.
The NFL’s Thursday night games attracted an average of 11.8 million viewers in 2020, which is strong compared to the rest of television, but potentially not worth the high price tag. According to The Wall Street Journal, analysts estimate that that Fox has loses $250 million a season on Thursday night games.
Streaming exclusively on Amazon might also create new problems for the NFL.
Prime’s lone exclusive game in 2020 attracted just 5 million fans, which is much lower than Nielsen ratings behemoths like Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football.
Ronald Jones II (27) of the Bucs runs up the middle and breaks loose for yardage during the regular season game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 29, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa