The NFL, which recently changed up its Thursday night broadcast plan by setting a new, long-term deal with Fox, has stuck with existing streaming partner Amazon for the primetime games. The renewal is good for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Amazon Prime will stream the 11 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by Fox, which will also be simulcast on NFL Network and distributed in Spanish on Fox Deportes. The e-commerce behemoth, which said in February that its 11 games in 2017 drew a global audience of 18.4 million, beat out multiple other contenders for the streaming rights including YouTube, Verizon, Twitter and others. NFL streaming has gone from a curiosity in 2015, when Yahoo Sports streamed a game from London, to a must-have feature of the sports rights landscape. Twitter handled streaming of Thursday night games in 2016. Verizon recently set a deal with the NFL for mobile streaming of games.
NFL ratings have drifted down over the past two seasons on linear TV networks, even February’s Super Bowl, for a variety of reasons. The games still dominate the ratings, though, and are viewed as safe harbor with massive reach, especially among male audiences. Amazon participates in ad revenue from the games, but the value for the company is in collecting viewer data, which it can leverage in other areas.
Games will be made available to the more than 100 million Amazon Prime members worldwide in 200-plus countries and territories. Viewers will be able to access the games via the Prime Video app on TVs, game consoles, and connected devices, which includes Amazon Fire TV, mobile devices and online.
Amazon and the NFL promised “interactive features that bring fans closer to the game” during the Thursday streams, which will also be available to Twitch viewers. The league and the company will also collaborate on additional NFL content opportunities and enhanced fan viewing experiences, including making the games available on Twitch’s interactive social video service.
“Amazon was a tremendous partner for Thursday Night Football in 2017 and as we continue our mission of delivering NFL games to fans whether they watch on television or on digital platforms, we are excited to work with them again for the next two seasons,” said Brian Rolapp, Chief Media and Business Officer for the NFL. “Having over 100 million Amazon Prime members provides a massive platform to distribute Thursday Night Football digitally, not only to our fans in the United States but also around the world.”
Jeff Blackburn, SVP Business Development & Entertainment at Amazon, affirmed, “Our customers love to stream football.”
The multiyear renewal continues a strong partnership between the NFL and Amazon which, in addition to Thursday Night Football, also features the Emmy-winning Prime Original series All or Nothing. Produced by NFL Films, Season 3 of the docuseries will launch on Friday with All or Nothing: The Dallas Cowboys.