Amazon picks off NFL Thursday Night from Twitter

The online shopping hub will begin streaming NFL Thursday Night games this season, replacing Twitter, who previously had those rights.

Amazon will stream the games for the upcoming season, according to ESPN, and only Amazon Prime members will be able to watch.

Amazon's rights fee is said to be about five times the price paid for the 2016 package by Twitter.

Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to stream the NFL's 10 Thursday night games.

Thursday Night Football also airs on NBC, CBS, and the NFL Network cable channel.

Via John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, Amazon wanted to get the deal done now in order to sell advertising around it.

The deal underscores a key strategy Amazon has to win a greater share of shoppers' wallets: offer benefits like fast shipping and video-streaming so people sign up for Prime and, consequently, turn to Amazon for more of their purchases.

But the real loser here is clearly Twitter, which has been working to position itself as a live-streaming platform.

When Amazon lost the bid last season to Twitter, the social media giant was said to be a ideal fit for the league because of its 300 million users.

The move sets Amazon apart from competitors Netflix and Hulu, both of which have yet to enter the live sports programming space.

While the games will continue to be broadcast on television by CBS, NBC and the NFL Network, short-term digital agreements are part of the football league's strategy leading up to 2021, when the traditional broadcast deals begin to expire. At that point the National Football League will be looking at tech companies as possible bidders alongside networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC and Fox.

Like the Twitter deal, the Amazon-NFL tie-up will likely have a relatively modest impact, at least in the short term.

  • Julie Sanders