Amazon Prime’s bundle of benefits just got a whole lot sweeter for sports fans worldwide as the company announced plans to stream the upcoming season of Thursday Night Football. As Digital Trends noted, Amazon paid $50 million for one-year live stream rights that will cover the 10-game season of Thursday evening football.
Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football acquisition is a game-changing move into live streaming for the company. The contentious bidding war with social media giants Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter shows that Amazon is serious about building a real cable killer at a time when more people are cutting the cord and looking for streaming-only services.
In recent years, both Facebook and Twitter have made increasing moves into live streaming events and content. Facebook Live has dedicated channels for trending topics and carries special events, such as the recent program “Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU,” which featured politically active celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, and Tina Fey.
Facebook Live’s growing popularity has put a dent in YouTube and Twitter, who both continue to struggle with profitability and retaining viewers for their live content. YouTube Red, the company’s fledgling subscription-based video model, hasn’t caught on with the public in large part because the bulk of their viewership has rejected paying for videos.
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A growing backlash over their intrusive and unskippable advertisements didn’t help matters for YouTube and led to parent company Google announcing plans phase out the ads that viewers complained about the most completely by 2018. YouTube also had to contend with the recent PR nightmare involving one of its biggest content providers PewDiePie, whom Disney dropped from their lineup for controversial videos.
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Twitter’s decline has come as more people are moving away from the platform to use millennial-friendly apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. Losing streaming rights for the upcoming football season to Amazon only adds to Twitter’s growing troubles.
As Digital Trends noted, Twitter’s efforts to successfully integrate live streaming sports content all came up short.
“The struggling company made much of the NFL deal last year, which allowed sports fans around the world to access the coverage even without a Twitter account. However, the setback is unlikely to deter it from continuing to seek out similar opportunities to add to its current line-up of streaming offerings that currently include NHL, MLB, and PGA coverage.”
With Thursday Night Football, Amazon is getting a guaranteed powerhouse that has continued to grow in viewers since its debut in 2006. Television networks CBS and NBC each broadcast five games and feature a who’s who of sports announcers and analysts such as former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, James Brown, Rich Eisen, and the recently retired former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo who just signed a deal with CBS Sports.
Amazon is counting on a sizable revenue boost from airing football on Thursday nights. The company is expected to feature product ads prominently on screen during the games for its never-ending catalog of items. The sports, snack food and apparel tie-ins alone are projected to bring in millions for the company during the football season and beyond while ushering in a level of advertising interaction once unseen.
Amazon Prime memberships are becoming a ubiquitous part of American culture. As CNN reported in 2016, there are over 54 million subscribers to the service, comprising nearly half of all US households. The growing number of benefits that Prime members get includes free two-day shipping, as well as ad-free access to Prime music’s catalog of more than a million songs which includes a second pay tier that is comparable to Spotify.
The move by Amazon comes at a time when more people are eager to save money by doing away with cable and relying primarily on streaming for their TV watching. According to Variety, the majority of Americans turn to streaming services for their TV viewing, although there is a generational gap that persists with older people preferring cable to online viewing. Still, the momentum remains on the side of streaming services in providing entertainment for the nation and now Amazon is gambling that Americans are ready to move their sports viewing away from traditional sources.
[Featured image by Andy Clayton-King/AP Images]