“This expedited deal is an immediate differentiator for us as a service, as it gives Prime members exclusive access to the most popular sport in the United States.” said Marie Donoghue, vice president of Global Sports Video at Amazon, in a statement. The NFL’s pact with Amazon marks the first time the league has awarded exclusive game rights to a streaming outlet.
The new terms mean Fox will drop its rights to show the Thursday games after one more season. “Thursday Night Football” has aired on Fox, the NFL Network and on Amazon for the past several years. Amazon’s Prime Video will carry 15 Thursday-night games and one pre-season game per year through the 2032 season. Each game will also be televised in the participating teams’ home marketplaces. Fox had been in the midst of a five-year pact valued overall at more than $650 million per year. Amazon is expected to double that figure as part of a new agreement it stuck with the NFL in March.
“Thursday Night Football” generates some of TV’s biggest audiences, and yet the property has been a problem child for the networks that pay millions to run it. Fox, and NBC and CBS before it, could not make a profit off the series, owing in part to the quality of the match-ups as well as the NFL’s insistence the Thursday games air on multiple venues, and not just broadcast TV.
Amazon, however, seems more sanguine about its prospects. “We have already devoted a lot of time to thinking about how to use new technologies to drive viewing experiences,” Donoghue told Variety in March. “We think this will be a great opportunity to continue to do that. The opportunities are endless with this relationship.”
In a statement, Fox Sports said it would honor its commitment to the property in 2021. “The package is as strong as it has ever been, and we will continue to build on that strength in its final season,’ the company said in a statement.