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Amazon Gets Thursday Night Football

It’s getting to the point where you have to look hard to find a reason not to get an Amazon Prime subscription. Amazon recently added yet another reason to upgrade to a Prime Membership—Thursday Night Football.

As many NFL fans will remember, Twitter was the prize holder for free Thursday Night Football (TNF) games in 2016. This year Amazon took the reins with a $50 million bid. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all expressed interest in carrying the TNF games this year but were not able to come up with a competing bid for Amazon. To put the $50 million bid into perspective, Twitter paid $10 million for the same deal the year before.

Just like the Twitter deal before, Amazon Prime’s contract with the NFL gives them 10 TNF games that they can broadcast to their customers. If you are an Amazon Prime member you will automatically have free access for each of the games!

To be clear: Amazon will not have exclusive rights to the games. CBS and NBC will each broadcast five of the ten games. Amazon will then stream those channels coverage of the game, including their advertisements. As part of their deal Amazon will have access to a limited number of their own advertising slots for each game as well.

It is interesting to see the NFL side with Amazon over Twitter this year since they made a point last year to talk about choosing Twitter because of their huge potential audience of 300+ million users. Not only that, but Twitter didn’t require someone to have a Twitter account to watch the TNF games. Conversely Amazon does require users to log in to their Prime Membership and they offer a significantly smaller potential audience.

The NFL has decided, that despite all of that they could not pass up the $50 million price tag that Amazon is offering. Brian Rolapp, the NFL executive in charge of the league’s media deals, told Recode that they think Amazon will be able to reach at least as many people as Twitter did because even though they have a smaller total potential audience, that audience is much more engaged than Twitter’s is.

“Reach is a focus of ours. I think Amazon has been able to demonstrate, in everything that they do, massive scale,” he said. “I don’t think this is limiting the reach. I think this is expanding the reach,” said Rolapp.

Aside from Twitch (the gaming live-streaming platform) this is Amazon’s first real foray into the live-streaming world. Given the success of the NFL in general, and Twitter’s adventure with TNF last year, this seems like a big win for Amazon. Is it a $50 million win? We’ll have to wait and see.



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