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More Details Revealed About Amazon Prime Video Thursday Night NFL Deal

Jeff Kotuby

The Streamable recently reported that Amazon was rumored to make a huge play for Thursday Night Football’s upcoming broadcasting rights and stream games exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal, that rumor may only be partially true.

WSJ's Joe Flint reported that Amazon could carry “many” games exclusively to their network as a rights deal looms. Not “all,” as previously thought, but “many.” This could open up the door for Amazon to pick and choose which Thursday night games appear on the platform, in order to avoid less-than-stellar matchups that could potentially draw a lackluster rating. The wording could also be due to NFL Network's requirements to air exclusive games due to its distribution contracts with cable providers. Any Amazon/TNF deal wouldn’t start until 2022, as FOX still owns the rights for one more season.

The report also says that the Prime Video deal would mean those Thursday night games would not be available on traditional television outside of the local markets of the two teams involved each week. Until now, the Prime Video games were also broadcast on the NFL Network or on local Fox affiliates. This deal would provide exclusivity.

Last season’s Prime Video exclusive game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals drew a strong audience of 4.8 million but, as Flint reported, the number was still lower than one a traditional NFL broadcast receives. Amazon could desire flexibility to avoid a repeat of Niners/Cardinals in favor of stronger games, though it seems unlikely Thursday night would allow the same “flex scheduling” enjoyed by Sunday Night Football.

Flint sees the move as a win for the NFL. Selling TNF rights to Amazon would solve their problem of trying to sell costly programming to networks that already had NFL rights, which often result in losses for the companies who take on Thursday night games. It would also help the NFL continue its methodical foray into the growing streaming market. Amazon currently pays between $75-$100 million to stream Thursday night games but expect that number to jump. FOX, NBC, and CBS will likely pay roughly $2 billion each for their NFL rights, and ESPN will likely pay over $2 billion to air Monday Night Football.

Another interesting note in the report, NBC’s streaming service Peacock may carry one game exclusively and will simulcast NBC’s Sunday night games.

The Journal also reports that the NFL appears unlikely to re-up their Sunday Ticket deal with AT&T. DirecTV has the package through the 2022 season, but after AT&T sold off a chunk of the service to a private equity firm last week, it seems AT&T may be souring on such an expensive property.