Amazon gets exclusive Thursday Night

The National Football League has finalized its new 11-year media rights agreement with a pact that will run through 2033 and could be worth over $100 billion.

The league announced Thursday it’s renewing TV rights with all of its existing broadcast partners and adding Amazon Prime Video as an exclusive partner for its Thursday Night Football package. It’s the first time a streaming service will carry a full package of games exclusively. Amazon is paying about $1 billion per year, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon’s deal runs 10 years and begins in 2023.

ViacomCBS, Fox and Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal) are all paying more than $2 billion per year for their 11-year-long packages, while Disney (which owns ESPN and ABC) will pay around $2.7 billion annually, according to people familiar with the matter.  Using these numbers, the NFL’s new agreement projects to be more than $100 billion — the richest U.S. sports league media deal.

The NFL declined to comment on the total amount of the agreements. ViacomCBS is paying $2.1 billion for its package and NBCUniversal is paying about $2 billion, the lowest of any of the partners, but the highest increase over its previous deal, the people said. NBCUniversal paid $1.1 billion for its previous package, including playoff games.

Fox is also projected to pay over $2 billion in its new contact, but will save $660 million as it relinquishes the Thursday Night Football package. Morgan Stanley estimates that contact will be averaging $400 million in annual losses in 2023 when Fox’s agreement expires.

Disney is paying more and receiving more NFL content, including rights to exclusively air an international game each year, beginning in 2022, one of the people said.  In this pact, the ESPN network keeps the Monday Night Football package and also has rights to air two Super Bowls on its ABC network. Disney can stream all NFL games that air on ABC and ESPN on ESPN+, the league said. 

Disney will now carry 23 games instead of 17 in its previous deal. ABC will air three Monday Night Football games, which will not be double-headers with ESPN because the timing of the games will overlap, one of the people said. ABC will also carry two Saturday games the last week of the NFL season, which could turn into a new Week 18 if the NFL moves forward with adding a week. Disney will also receive a new divisional round playoff game, said the person.

“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. “We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market. Along with our recently completed labor agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the league and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.”

“NFL games are the most watched live programming in the United States, and this unprecedented Thursday Night Football package gives tens of millions of new and existing Prime members exclusive access to must-watch live football on Prime Video,” said Mike Hopkins, Senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, in a statement.

The league’s National Football Conference (NFC) games will remain with Fox, and CBS Sports will continue to host American Football Conference (AFC) games and stream those contests on its Paramount+ service. NBCUniversal will keep the Sunday Night Football package and use its Peacock service to stream games.

The NFL’s Super Bowl rotation is as follows:

CBS: 2023, 2027, 2031FOX: 2024, 2028, 2032NBC: 2025, 2029, 2033ESPN/ABC: 2026, 2030

The NFL’s Covid-19 Super Bowl in February attracted 96.4 million viewers watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9. The game was the lowest watched Super Bowl since 2007 when the Indianapolis Colts played the Chicago Bears. That game attracted 93.1 million viewers, according to Octagon’s media division data provided to CNBC.

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