Amazon in talks to offer many NFL games exclusively on Prime Video


The National Football League is set to sign new rights deals with media partners who may see Inc.

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Exclusively broadcast many games and TV networks pay up to double their current price, people familiar with the matter said.

New agreements could be in place as early as next week, residents said. TV deals for the league’s Sunday and Monday franchises with Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN are expected to last up to 11 years, they said.

ESPN’s deal would go into effect after the 2021-22 season while the Fox, CBS, and NBC deal would come into effect after the 2022-23 season.

A deal with Amazon would result in a significant number of Thursday night games exclusively on its Prime Video platform and represent the league’s deepest foray into streaming, some people have said. Those matches would not be available on traditional television outside of the local markets of the two playing teams, they said.

Amazon has become an aggressive bidder for sports rights here and abroad. The company already has a relationship with the NFL as it has owned the streaming rights for Thursday night football since 2017. These games have also been televised by the league-owned NFL Network and more recently by the Fox Network, including parent company Fox Corp. FOX 0.99%

shares common property with News Corp, the parent company of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co.

If done, a deal with Amazon won’t take effect until after the 2022 season, when Fox’s current Thursday night football pact expires. Fox is now paying $ 660 million per season for this package, the Wall Street Journal previously reported. If Thursday’s games go to Amazon and there is no other video component beyond the local television markets of the teams playing, the annual fee paid by Amazon could reach $ 1 billion, said people familiar with the discussions.

Amazon currently pays between $ 75 million and $ 100 million to broadcast Thursday’s games, a person familiar with the deal said. As with Fox, this contract has two more seasons. The NFL Network would continue to offer a handful of exclusive games on Saturdays and Thursdays as its deal with distributors requires it to host at least five games per season, people familiar with the thinking of the league have said.

A deal with Amazon for most Thursday night games would solve a potential problem for the NFL. While Thursday’s games score well compared to any other programming, the high price tag made it a tough sell for broadcasters who already offer NFL packages such as Fox, which analysts and industry insiders believe. they lose $ 250 million per season. Prior to the Fox deal, CBS and NBC shared Thursday’s games and their combined losses were over $ 200 million, people familiar with the deals said.

The long-term deals could be the last time the NFL can push for giant fee increases from its broadcast and cable partners amidst audience fragmentation and shrinking cords. Dominique Dafney of Green Bay hit a touchdown pass on Jan. 3.


Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

A decision to put some of the NFL games – which typically dominate TV ratings – exclusively on a streaming platform is not without risk. Amazon broadcast a game exclusively last year and attracted an average audience of less than five million people, far fewer than the typical NFL game on television or ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”.

The league tries to strike a balance between adopting new platforms and the revenue they represent while keeping most of its games on mainstream television.

The average annual fee of Fox Corp. for its Sunday afternoon games are expected to rise to around $ 2 billion from the current $ 1.1 billion, people familiar with the negotiations said. ViacomCBS Inc.

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will likely see its average cost per Sunday afternoon game season drop from $ 1 billion to $ 2 billion, the people said.

The new deal for Comcast Corp.

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NBC is also expected to more than double, from the average of $ 960 million it currently pays per season to around $ 2 billion, a person familiar with the pact said. NBC’s streaming service Peacock will also feature an exclusive game and simultaneously broadcast NBC games on Sunday night, the person said.

The league also expects to get a big fee hike from Walt Disney Co..

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ESPN, people familiar with the matter said.

The fee increases come after a season in which odds were down for the regular season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Network executives say they believe the coronavirus pandemic played a big part in the declines and believe the numbers will improve once normalcy returns.

Additionally, CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN all face challenges in retaining their viewers, which makes live sports even more important.

This next round of long-term deals could be the last time the NFL is able to demand such huge fee increases from its broadcast and cable partners as audience fragmentation and Cord cuts are only expected to increase in the coming years, said media analyst MoffettNathanson. Michael Nathanson.

“This is a sign that the NFL wants to take as many as it can for as long as it can. In a decade the world will surely be different and a new set of bidders will have to emerge,” Nathanson said. .

One televised deal the NFL has yet to renegotiate is the Sunday Ticket package, which allows fans to watch any game on Sunday afternoon. AT&T Inc.‘s

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DirecTV has the package through the 2022 season at an annual price of $ 1.5 billion. AT&T CEO John Stankey has indicated that Sunday Ticket is no longer the growth engine it once was and is no longer essential for DirecTV. In addition, AT & T’s interest in the satellite broadcaster is also waning. Last week he struck a deal to sell a 30% stake in DirecTV to private equity firm TPG for $ 1.8 billion.

Write to Joe Flint at

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