NFL significantly expands streaming deals as Amazon nabs Thursday Night exclusive

The NFL has signed long-term television and digital media rights agreements that greatly expand availability to a variety of streaming platforms. Notably, Amazon has scored exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football in the first ever all-digital package. The deal begins with the 2023 season and extends through 2033.

“NFL games are the most watched live programming in the United States, and this unprecedented Thursday Night Football package gives tens of millions of new and existing Prime members exclusive access to must-watch live football on Prime Video,” said Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios in a press release announcing the deal.

The ten-year deal is rumored to cost Amazon about $1 billion per year, according to CNBC’s sources. Amazon has been the NFL’s streaming media partner since 2017, streaming games on its Prime Video and Twitch platforms. Amazon Prime memberships cost $119 per year.

The NFL has also expanded its digital distribution deals to include ESPN Plus, Paramount Plus, Peacock, and Fox Digital platforms in order to augment broadcasts on CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN/ABC. The move should help the NFL reach a younger audience after viewership fell seven percent in the pandemic-stricken 2021 season. CBS’s AFC games will now also stream on Paramount Plus, Fox’s Tubi service will stream NFC games, and Peacock will stream Sunday Night Football. All games that appear on ABC and ESPN will also stream on ESPN Plus.

“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love. We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Beyond digital, the NFL says it remains committed to showing games for free on over-the-air broadcast television, signing new, 11-year deals with CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN / ABC that run through 2033. The major broadcast and cable TV packages for Sunday afternoon games, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football are staying with the same networks. CBS, FOX, and NBC will televise three Super Bowls through 2033 while ESPN/ABC will now carry two. The 2021 Super Bowl was the most-streamed NFL game ever, but also the least watched overall in more than a decade.

In total, the NFL’s new media deals are thought to be worth over $100 billion, making it the most valuable media deal for any US sports league, according to CNBC.

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