Amazon wants to be exclusive announcer of the NFL on Thursdays in 2023


Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

Katherine Taylor | Reuters

Amazon wants to be the exclusive producer of National Football League Thursday games starting in 2023, but the NFL may decide to keep certain games on the NFL Network and take less money from Amazon, according to people familiar with it. affair.

Amazon is in talks with the league to pay about $ 1 billion worth of a full season of exclusive games, outside the local television markets of the two teams playing, said the people, who asked not to be identified because conversations are private. The talks are ongoing and no decision has been made, the people said.

In a new deal, Amazon would be responsible for all production costs and would still have to pay a local broadcaster to produce the game for local markets, as the NFL wants Thursday night games to air. on local television in each of the participants. local markets for equipment.

The NFL Network, which is generally packaged as part of expensive pay-TV packages, has requirements with pay-TV distributors to broadcast a certain number of games exclusively. The Wall Street Journal, which previously reported Amazon’s interest, reported Wednesday that the NFL Network deals require it to stream five games exclusively. With the NFL set to add a week 18, the league could possibly give the NFL Network enough games on Saturdays and other games to reach the limits of the cable network without diving into Thursday, one of the people said.

Still, the NFL may decide that propping up the value of the NFL Network is a higher priority than giving Amazon a full list of Thursday’s games. The league is still considering proposals to simulcast Amazon’s Thursday games on the NFL Network or to split Thursday’s games between Amazon and the NFL Network, two of the people said.

Amazon won’t pay anywhere near a billion dollars for a full package of games that aren’t entirely exclusive, the people said. Amazon is open to a deal where it gets brand-name games simulcast on the NFL Network for less money, the people said. It’s also open to a package where you get fewer exclusive games for less money.

“This is a huge watershed event for the television industry,” LightShed analyst Rich Greenfield said today on CNBC. “The fact that you can now play Thursday night games without having local television, no antenna will work if you are outside the local markets.”

The deal would build on Amazon’s three-year agreement with the NFL to stream 12 Thursday games in the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons on its Prime Video streaming service. That deal allows Amazon to stream one game exclusively each season. Last year, it was a Week 16 game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. Fox’s Thursday night football deal expires in 2022 and will not be bought early, according to people familiar with the matter.

The NFL has been cautious in assigning broadcast rights to broadcast services. The league is close to reaching deals with its current television partners: Disney, which owns ESPN and ABC; ViacomCBS; NBCUniversal and Comcast Fox: for Sunday and Monday night packages.

Still, streaming is becoming the dominant form of viewing for millions of Americans and can have a global reach, unlike traditional pay TV. Several pay-TV distributors have signed deals with Amazon Prime Video to make their programming available on set-top boxes, further limiting friction for the tens of millions of Americans who still pay for linear pay-TV packages from carriers like Comcast. and AT&T.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of CNBC.

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