Bezos’ decadelong, $10B NFL bet is part of a larger streaming playbook for Amazon

Amazon just signed a massive contract to stream Thursday Night Football. Here’s why that matters.

March 23, 2021

Just how serious has Amazon gotten about streaming live football? Take a look at the before and after:

  • 2017: Amazon spent ~$50m on nonexclusive rights to Thursday Night Football.
  • 2021: Bezos just signed an exclusive 10-year, $10B+ deal for Thursday night games.

This latest deal is part of the NFL’s new decadelong $113B agreement spree with broadcasters. And it signifies Big Tech’s first serious foray into the world of Big Sports.

The deals add big points to streaming’s scoreboard

Live football is one of the last bastions of traditional TV. In 2020, 7 of the top 10 shows were NFL games.

The NFL’s new agreements expand networks’ rights to stream games on their own platforms (e.g., CBS x Paramount+, NBC x Peacock, and Disney x ESPN+).

Amazon’s $10B deal, which is good through 2033, will force Thursday Night Football enthusiasts to sign up for Amazon Prime in order to tune in.

Bezos could be eyeing a future in ad revenue and sports betting

Ad spend on connected TVs will total ~$13.4B in 2021, up from ~$9B in 2020. And Amazon is making moves in the space: In 2020, the company’s streaming-TV ad business grew faster than its search-and-display ad segments.

Tech from Amazon’s livestream gaming platform Twitch will also enable in-game betting, commenting, and access to stats and replays.

Bezos is playing the long game here. If history is any indication, that’s a strategy that’s worked out well for him.

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