National Football League owners are putting their collective toes in the water in terms of future video delivery platforms. They signed a one year, $50-million deal with Amazon to show ten Thursday Night games on Amazon’s Prime service. The NFL is not abandoning traditional over-the-air television on this agreement as both CBS and NBC will do the contracted five games each in the fall. But the NFL is getting five times the amount of money than the league did with the NFL-twitter Thursday night package in 2016.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also wanted the package. Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not considered traditional video carriers like network TV so a shift is taking place. All sports league will be watching how the NFL performs and whether Amazon Prime executives are happy with the arrangement. Amazon might be able to provide a bigger video platform than either CBS or NBC.
Future video revenues are not a problem in 2017, but might be in the next round of negotiations for the Thursday night series and those negotiations will take place later this year. CBS reported that network revenues between October and December 2016 were down and that Thursday Night NFL telecasts had a hand in the decline. In 2016, the NFL struck a two-year deal with CBS and NBC to carry Thursday night contests with each network getting five games a year. The 20 games were sold for $900 million, a number the NFL likes and would like to expand upon in 2018. But there is a problem.
The NFL had 8 percent fewer viewers in 2016 than in 2015. The NFL is trying to address that issue but if a global subscription based content carrier comes along in the future and has the money to spend, network TV and viewer erosion may not be a significant problem. The winds of change are blowing.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.