NFL expands streaming partnership with Amazon

Dive Brief:

  • The National Football League (NFL) has signed a multi-year agreement with Amazon to renew their exclusive partnership for the digital streaming rights to Thursday Night Football Presented by Bud Light Platinum, the organization revealed in a press release shared with Marketing Dive.
  • As part of the agreement, Amazon will now also exclusively stream one regular season game globally on Prime Video and Twitch. The game will take place on a Saturday in the second half of the 2020 NFL regular season. The game will also be aired on television in the participating teams’ home markets.
  • Amazon Prime Video and Twitch will stream the 11 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by FOX. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but CNBC reports the contract to be worth more than the 2018 $130 million agreement.

Dive Insight:

The NFL and Amazon news is the latest evidence that a partnership first formed several years ago is proving to be mutually beneficial, as the two organizations renew an existing multimillion dollar streaming rights deal and expand it with new content.

In 2017, Amazon beat out Twitter and Facebook for the NFL streaming rights in a deal that was reported to be worth $50 million. The streaming audience for sports content has only grown since then as more consumers have cut the cord with cable TV, with a majority of NFL fans reporting last fall that they watched one of the opening games for the NFL season via a streaming platform. In December, research showed that NFL’s audience on Amazon-owned Twitch had been rising 45 % year-over-year, with more fans watching entire Thursday Night Football games on the platform. ​

The growing audience for NFL games on Twitch shows how streaming is helping the league reach fans who are watching less broadcast or cable TV in favor of over-the-top services. By adding the exclusive rights to stream one regular season game globally on Prime Video and Twitch, the NFL is signaling a focus on continuing to build its digital streaming audience.

The coronavirus health crisis could end up accelerating the broad shift from cable TV to streaming platforms, as consumers stay home and seek out programming, delivering traffic spikes for major platforms. With many live sporting events currently not taking place, the trend could be even more pronounced for sports-related content. The NCAA, NHL, NBA, MLB have cancelled or postponed seasons, leaving TV networks and advertisers struggling to respond. TV networks with sports coverage could see viewership declines ranging from 9% to 25%, per a report from eMarketer on Magna Global research.​ Some advertisers are looking to move linear TV investments to streaming platforms in this environment, per Digiday.

For Amazon, the news points to how its aims to broaden its video platform’s appeal among a wider audience by streaming these games, while deepening its connections with existing users at a time when competition is quickly accelerating in the streaming space as a number of new platforms debut, including HBO Max, Disney+, Quibi and others.

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