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Volume 27 No. 32
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Amazon Expected To Be Aggressive In Landing NFL Rights Package

Amazon may find itself with a package of NFL games carved out by the league
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Amazon is expected to be aggressive in bidding on the next round of NFL rights after acquiring the rights to simulcast one NFL Wild Card game this season. A source said that Amazon was paying in the $15-20M range for the rights to that game, which will be produced by CBS. There is no guarantee that Amazon is going to end up with a high-profile game package, but it is looking increasingly likely that the league will carve out a package of games that Amazon can stream exclusively. It could be something like a handful of Sunday afternoon games, a non-exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market package or the league’s international games.

BOTH SIDES FEELING EACH OTHER OUT: It is clear that Amazon is auditioning the NFL to see if it is the right fit. It will simulcast 11 “TNF” games for at least the next three seasons, and it will exclusively carry one game during the '20 season -- either in Week 15 or 16. It also is clear that the NFL is auditioning Amazon. Judging by some of the streaming stats it has seen, the league looks likely to continue moving slowly -- not just with Amazon, but with any tech partner. The number of people streaming live sports have been eye-openingly low. Take Amazon’s “TNF” experience last season, for example. Sources said that while the TV audience for traditional in-home viewing was around 15 million, Amazon averaged just 646,000 viewers on a per-minute basis for its stream -- making up only 4% of the overall audience. That trend continued during its first “TNF” game this season, when Amazon averaged 746,000 viewers for its stream, compared to around 15 million on Fox alone. There are more than 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers.

TV TAKES: CNBC's Jim Cramer said, “Every day the NFL changes when it is going to have a game. I'm surprised that Amazon said when they’re going to have it. They should say, ‘Listen, we're going to have an excess game that's played on a Tuesday.’” CNBC's David Faber said Amazon could “get the Tuesday games” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 10/15). CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa noted Amazon has "already been expanding its NFL ‘Thursday Night Football’ programming, so this is another step into live sports” (“Closing Bell,” CNBC, 10/14). CBS Sports' Boomer Esiason: "Do they carve out yet another night of football to be able to sell? We all know the NFL owners like to sell things, and their product is No. 1" (“Boomer and Gio,” CBSSN, 10/14).