Amazon Eyeing Black Friday NFL Game

On the heels of Amazon’s reported $1.2 billion annual deal with the National Football League for exclusive rights to all 15 “Thursday Night Football,” games for 11 years beginning in 2023, comes news the e-commerce behemoth is looking to possibly add a game on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

That speculation comes from Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and member of the NFL management committee that secured a record $113 billion in collective TV/media contract fees from Fox, Disney, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and Amazon.

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Speaking to “The Peter King Podcast” on NBC Sports’ “Pro Football Talk,” Kraft said Amazon was looking for a perk since it is spending double what Fox paid for the previous rights, and there is no “Thursday Night Football” on Thanksgiving. That’s because the NFL has a long tradition (since 1934) showcasing the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, and other teams, on the last Thursday in November.

“Amazon [will] dedicate tremendous resources to make this work for them and for us,” Kraft said. “Who knows, maybe we’ll play a game on Black Friday, their biggest shopping day of the year?”

The NFL live-streamed its first game on Oct. 25, 2015, on Yahoo Sports from London featuring the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since then, over-the-top video has exploded while the traditional linear TV bundle has declined.

“Today, you are able to watch an original film that won an Oscar on the same site that you buy your toothpaste,” added Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer with the NFL.

While Amazon has made no official announcement, the NFL has been reluctant to play on Friday due to the league’s 60-year antitrust exemption via the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 negotiating media contracts. The NFL, and other sports leagues, over the years have survived legislative attempts to rescind those antitrust exemptions.

Last year, for the first time in 10 years, the NFL scheduled a game on Friday, Dec. 25 between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints.

 

Amazon Prime Video, NFL Sign Historic 10-Year ‘Thursday Night Football’ Streaming Pact

The National Football League had a busy day inking new carriage/streaming deals with media giants NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS. The NFL also announced a 10-year agreement with Amazon Prime Video to exclusively broadcast 15 “Thursday Night Football” games and one pre-season game per year in the U.S. The deal marks first-ever digital package for the NFL.

The Prime Video deal begins in 2023 and is the NFL’s first exclusive national broadcast package with a digital streaming service. The deal is increasing from 11 games to 15 games, with all games airing on Prime Video as part of a Prime membership.

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“This unprecedented package gives tens of millions of new and existing Prime members exclusive access to live football on Prime Video,” Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement.

Prime Video will deliver new pre-game, half-time, and post-game shows, and it will continue to offer fan-favorite interactive features like X-Ray and Next Gen Stats, which provide a more customizable viewing experience.

In addition, Prime Video also secured rights to a weekly slate of original NFL programming and expanded rights to in-game highlights for all NFL matchups. Prime Video and the NFL will continue to collaborate on exclusive NFL content and enhanced fan viewing experiences around “Thursday Night Football,” with more information to come ahead of the first game in 2023.

The announcement is a continuation of an expanding relationship between the NFL and Amazon, which first distributed a simulcast of “Thursday Night Football” during the 2017 season.

In April 2020, Amazon and the NFL expanded the existing 11-game “Thursday Night Football” package on Prime Video to include one exclusive regular-season game per year, the first of which was played on Dec. 26 between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals.

The matchup drew an estimated 11.2 million total viewers and delivered the highest digital average-minute audience ever for an NFL regular-season game. Additionally, since 2017, the NFL has used Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its official cloud and machine learning provider for Next Gen Stats, which provides real-time location, speed, and acceleration data for every player during every play on every inch of the field.

In keeping with the NFL’s long-standing commitment to make its games available on free, over-the-air television, each game will also be televised in the participating teams’ home marketplaces.

National Football League, Amazon Expand Streaming Deal

The National Football League and Amazon April 29 announced a new multiyear agreement to live-stream “NFL Thursday Night Football” to a global audience across myriad compatible devices.

The deal also includes Amazon’s rights to stream one regular season game globally on Prime Video and Twitch, which will be played on a Saturday in the second half of the 2020 NFL regular season. The game will also be televised in the participating teams’ home markets.

Financial details were not disclosed but media reports say it exceeded the previous $65 million annual deal. The NFL and Amazon first partnered to distribute Thursday Night Football during the 2017 season.

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Amazon Prime Video and Twitch will stream 11 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by Fox, which will be available to more than 150 million Prime members worldwide, and in more than 200 countries and territories on the Prime Video and Twitch sites and apps across connected living room devices, mobile phones, tablets and PCs.

All Thursday Night Football games will also be distributed in Spanish on Fox Deportes and are expected to be simulcast on NFL Network, continuing the league’s “tri-cast” model of broadcast, cable and digital distribution.

“As our relationship has expanded, Amazon has become a trusted and valued partner of the NFL,” Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer for the NFL, said in a statement. “Extending this partnership around ‘Thursday Night Football’ continues our critical mission of delivering NFL games to as many fans in as many ways as possible both in the United States and around the world.”

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Thursday Night Football on Prime Video and Twitch will continue to offer interactive features like X-Ray and Next Gen Stats powered by AWS. On Prime Video, members can choose to watch the Fox broadcast, the Fox Deportes Spanish language coverage, and from multiple alternative audio options exclusive to Prime Video.

There was no mention whether Prime Video will continue offering play-by-play commentary/analysis option from Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer — the first all-female NFL announcing team.

In 2019, Thursday Night Football delivered an average audience of 15.4 million viewers, including Fox, NFL Network, Fox Deportes, NFL digital, Fox Sports digital, Prime Video, Twitch, and Verizon Media mobile properties — up +4% versus the 2018 Thursday Night Football season average (14.9 million).

Digital streaming across Prime Video, Twitch, NFL digital, Fox Sports digital and Verizon Media mobile properties in 2019 surpassed an average minute audience of over 1.0 million — up +43% versus the previous year (729,000).

This multiyear renewal also features the Emmy-winning Amazon Original “All or Nothing.” Produced by NFL Films, season five of the sports documentary series premiered on Friday, Feb. 7 with “All or Nothing: The Philadelphia Eagles,” available exclusively on Prime Video. Additionally, since 2017, the NFL has utilized Amazon Web Services as its official cloud and machine learning provider for the Next Gen Stats platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field.

CBS Eyes 25 Million Combined ‘All Access,’ ‘Showtime OTT’ Subs by 2022

CBS is projecting 25 million combined subscribers by 2022 for over-the-top video services CBS All Access and Showtime OTT. The guidance follows the two subscription streaming services reaching 8 million combined subs at the end of 2018 – two years ahead of schedule.

All Access launched in 2014 for $5.99 monthly with ads ($9.99 without) featuring original, primetime and catalog CBS programming online and streaming devices without long-term contract.

Showtime OTT bowed in 2015 featuring the premium channel’s original content and third-party movies for $10.99 monthly fee.

“We are generating significant momentum with our direct-to-consumer platforms, which provide a great return-on-investment and represent one of our most powerful long-term growth drivers,” Joe Ianniello, acting CEO said in a statement.

Indeed, growth in Showtime OTT subscribers through Amazon Channels helped drive cable networks revenue up 8% to $551 million for the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) from $508 million in the prior-year period. Other revenue drivers included higher international licensing sales, and revenue from the Deontay Wilder/Tyson Fury pay-per-view boxing event in December.

Operating income of $193 million decreased 7% from $207 million for the same prior-year period, reflecting an increased investment in programming.

Entertainment segment revenue — which includes All Access — dipped 1% to $2.83 billion from $2.86 billion, reflecting 14% lower content licensing and distribution revenue, mainly as a result of the timing of international licensing sales and several large domestic sales in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Affiliate and subscription fees grew 17%, led by growth from All Access and higher revenue from station affiliation fees and virtual MVPDs. Advertising revenue increased 2%, reflecting revenue from Network 10, which was acquired in the fourth quarter of 2017.

This increase was partially offset by the absence of the broadcast of “Thursday Night Football” in 2018. Underlying CBS Network advertising for the fourth quarter of 2018 increased 2% from last year’s fourth quarter.

Entertainment operating income of $438 million for the fourth quarter of 2018 decreased 6% from $465 million for the same prior-year period, primarily reflecting the lower revenue and an increased investment in content and digital initiatives. These decreases were partially offset by the absence of programming costs associated with “Thursday Night Football.”

 

 

Report: Third-Quarter Streaming Video Consumption Up 63%

Consumption of streaming video – via over-the-top platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — continues to mushroom.

New data from digital measurement firm Conviva found a 63% increase in third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) video viewing hours from the previous-year period. Video program plays increased 53%.

“Streaming TV consumption shows no signs of slowing down, and publishers have stepped up to the plate, delivering better quality and reliability that viewers have come to expect,” Conviva CEO Bill Demas said in a statement. “The demand for quality is pushing connected TVs to the top in terms of device share, commanding more than 50% of total viewing hours at the expense of PCs that have lost 7%, while mobile remains relatively flat.”

Indeed, the report — based on Conviva’s claims of tracking 1 trillion data events daily around the world – found that live sports (i.e. NFL football) streaming increased 3% in September, driven by Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football webcasts. Amazon said more than 8 million people collectively streamed the first four games of the season.

Connected TV video plays increased 145%, while viewing hours increased 103%. Online TV platforms such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Spectrum TV Plus, PlayStation Vue, Pluto TV and Fubo TV helped mushroom video plays 292%, including 212% increase in viewing hours from the previous-year period.

And consumers are streaming longer-form (TV shows and movies) entertainment, with 111% increase in video plays and 93% increase in video hours streamed.

Finally, Roku remains the No. 1 streaming media device, commanding 40% market share in viewing hours.

Amazon Q3 ‘Stores’ Revenue Up 10%

Amazon Oct. 25 reported third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) online store sales of $29 billion, up 10% from sales of $26.3 billion during the previous-year period. Physical store (two locations) sales topped $4.2 million from $1.3 million.

The ecommerce behemoth says online stores revenue includes product sales, physical and digital media, such as books, music, videos, games, and software. This includes digital products sold on a transactional basis such as Amazon Instant Video.

Separately, Amazon said the second season of “NFL Thursday Night Football” on Prime Video reaching more than 8 million combined viewers worldwide through the first four games on Prime Video and Twitch.

Amazon this season added a new alternative audio feed featuring sports journalists Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer, the first-ever all-female sportscasting team to call NFL games. In addition, Amazon is bringing interactivity to TNF with several innovations, including “X-Ray for TNF” on FireTV, enabling viewers to access live stats, player information, and in-app shopping; as well as the “TNF on Twitch,” affording global users interactive access to watch, comment, and predict game outcomes.

In addition, Prime Video debuted original series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Romanoffs,” and season 3 of “The Man in the High Castle.” Upcoming original series include “Homecoming,” a psychological thriller starring Julia Roberts, and produced and directed by Sam Esmail; as well as season 2 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” recent winner of eight Emmy awards including Outstanding Comedy Series.