As the NFL enters the red zone for its next round of TV deals, Amazon is looking to take on a larger piece of the pie. The retail giant, which has been streaming “Thursday Night Football” for the last few seasons, is in talks for more exclusive games as part of its new rights contract, an individual with knowledge told TheWrap.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Wednesday that Amazon was looking to take over “Thursday Night Football,” which its been sharing with Fox, on a more exclusive basis, though it is not clear how many games that would entail. That followed up a report from Sports Business Journal last Friday, which hinted that Amazon could become the main broadcaster for the Thursday primetime package.
The Journal added that Amazon could pay as much as $1 billion for the rights, which would be nearly double than the $660 million that Fox is paying out for its current five-year deal. Reps for Amazon and the NFL have declined to comment.
An announcement of its new TV deals with ESPN, NBC, Fox and CBS appears imminent.
Amazon has been slowly inching toward a larger status among the NFL’s media partners. Amazon has been streaming “Thursday Night Football” games since 2017, when the TV package was split between CBS and NBC. Fox acquired the broadcast rights beginning in 2018, and its current contract carries through the 2022 season.
But “TNF” has never been as an attractive a TV package despite its high ratings compared to everything else on TV. That’s because, as evidenced by Amazon’s involvement, it’s not been exclusive to TV like the league’s other primetime packages on Sunday and Monday nights. NFL Network, where “TNF” originated in 2006, has to air a handful of games exclusively as to not run afoul of its contracts with cable and satellite providers.
Amazon aired its first exclusive game last season, which came at the end of the season on a Saturday afternoon. The “Thursday Night Football” deal would represent Amazon’s biggest foray into live sports programming and the biggest bet on streaming made by a major sports outfit.
Any Amazon-exclusive games would be carried by the participating teams’ local broadcast stations.