Amazon Lands Streaming Rights to NFL's 'Thursday Night Football'

The agreement is for 10 Thursday night games that will only be available to Amazon Prime members.
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Amazon is getting into the sports arena.

The e-commerce giant has reached a deal with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The games will only be available to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year for free two-day shipping and access to the service's library of streaming music, movies and television shows. 

The one-year agreement is valued at around $50 million, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Recode, which both broke the news. That number dwarfs Twitter's reported $10 million deal last year to stream multiple games. The Thursday night package, which is currently split between CBS and NBC with five games each, will continue to air on linear television.

"Our focus is on bringing customers the best premium video programming, when and how they want to watch it. Streaming Thursday Night Football on Prime Video is a great step for us toward that vision, and offers tremendous new value for Prime members around the world," said Jeff Blackburn, senior vice president of business development and entertainment at Amazon. "And we're thrilled to extend our ongoing content relationship with the NFL – the gold standard for sports entertainment – on behalf of our Prime customers."

"We are continually looking for ways to deliver our games to fans wherever they watch, whether on television or on digital platforms and we are thrilled to bring Thursday Night Football to Amazon," added Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer for the NFL. "As has been the case with all our streaming initiatives, we look forward to continuing to innovate with our partners as we learn the best ways to serve our fans both this season and into the future."

Recode reports that Amazon will run most of the ads that appear on the CBS and NBC broadcasts, though it will be able to sell a few of its own ads every game.

Amazon has previously worked with the NFL on football docuseries All or Nothing, which follows one team through a whole season. The streamer recently renewed the project for a second season.

The move sets Amazon apart from competitors Netflix and Hulu, both of which have yet to enter the live sports programming space. Among the tech giants, however, the live-streaming space has become competitive. Twitter last year became the first online platform to acquire streaming rights to games. Like Amazon, the social network’s deal was to live-stream 10 Thursday Night Football broadcasts.

Facebook has also moved into the live sports business through a deal with Univision to stream more than 40 Mexican soccer matches this year. The social network is also said to be in talks with Major League Baseball about streaming one game per week.

Yahoo struck the first NFL streaming deal, for a single game played in London in 2015. 

Amazon's deal is not exclusive. Verizon currently streams NFL games for its customers, and CBS and NBC will be able to continue to stream the games to their viewers. Last year, CBS struck a deal with the NFL to make its football coverage available to subscribers of its All Access stand-alone streaming subscription. 

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