How important is Amazon’s NFL deal for Amazon and the future of the league?


Amazon is set to begin hosting the first of its 10 Thursday Night Football games with tonight’s match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. As consumers continue to be faced with a deluge of content options and cord-cutting becomes more popular, it remains to be seen whether consumers will fork out an extra $99 per year for something they can already get for free.

Amazon is betting heavily (to the tune of a reported $50 million for the streaming rights) that customers will want to watch the game on Amazon’s Video service. Last year, Twitter paid a reported $10 million for the games, which demonstrates that Amazon is willing to pay up for the chance to acquire new Prime subscribers.

“In order to enhance its value proposition in a highly competitive [over-the-top] market, Amazon needs appealing, differentiated content,” Tom Richardson, a sports industry veteran who teaches digital media in Columbia University’s Sports Management masters program, wrote in a recent LinkedIn article


Amazon has been building up its content offerings for Prime Video, which competes with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, as well as other traditional media. In addition to the Thursday games, which Richardson added are a “pretty safe bet,” it has a number of its own shows, including “Man in the High Castle,” “The Tick” and “Transparent,” which has received critical acclaim in the form of both Emmy nominations and wins.

The streaming service is also reportedly looking to add its own version of HBO’s mega-hit show, “Game of Thrones,” according to media reports.

Though Amazon may not see a flood of new subscribers for Amazon Prime because of the streaming rights, it’s clearly part of expanding the benefits of the service.

“This is virgin territory for Amazon, which has never had major sports rights before, and of course it’s for a single game a week for only some of the weeks of one season, so it’s a pretty limited offering,” Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson told Fox News. 

Dawson added, “I’ve no doubt Amazon will see some new signups as a result of offering the Thursday night games, but I can’t see it moving the overall needle much relative to its existing strong growth in Prime subscribers.” 

Richardson agreed, saying that it probably will not be a determing factor in adding new Prime subscribers, but it will likely “at the very least, enhance the perceived value of Prime membership.”

Amazon has never publicly disclosed how many Prime users it has, but third-party research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners puts Amazon Prime membership at around 80 million people in the U.S. alone. 

In addition to the games available to U.S. Prime members, they will also be available to Prime Video members internationally in more than 200 countries.


What’s at stake

In announcing the deal this past April, the NFL said…

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