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Amazon nabs the screening rights for NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football

You need to be a Prime subscriber to watch.

Apr 13, 2017, 2:26 pm*

Streaming

 

Christine Friar

The website where you buy your toilet paper and watch old episodes of Bones is getting into sports broadcasting.

Amazon announced Tuesday that it will offer Prime members livestreaming access to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games for the upcoming season. As part of the deal, Amazon gets to exclusively stream 10 games online, making it the only viewing option outside of the TV networks CBS and NBC on those nights.

The deal is an investment in a new market for the tech company. Last season Twitter paid $10 million for the streaming rights. This year, after a bidding war with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, the winning price tag was reportedly five times that original price—$50 million. Granted, $50 million is less of a dent in Amazon’s wallet than the $10 million was for Twitter, but it’s definitely a vote of confidence in the power of Prime membership.

Unlike with Twitter’s deal, which auto-played the stream to anyone who was logged in on a browser, Amazon’s Thursday Night Football will only be viewable to paying Prime members. But since, according to the Economist, Amazon accounts for more than half of every new dollar spent online in America, its confidence may not be misplaced.

Livestreaming is still very much a pilot program for the NFL. CBS and NBC pay $225 million each per year to broadcast just five Thursday night games a season, half the amount Amazon will be able to air with its $50 million deal. But a lot of would-be cord-cutters hang onto their cable packages specifically because of the sports coverage, so taking the NFL to a place where a lot of consumers are already watching TV online makes pretty solid business sense.

According to the New York Times, the average number of people who tuned in to a Twitter stream of a game last season was 226,000. That same figure for TV was 15.8 million. But “analysts estimate that as many as 60 million households use Amazon Prime,” which means there’s potential to expand nearly 3.75 times the audience.

Dang.

H/T Yahoo Finance

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*First Published: Apr 5, 2017, 10:22 am