The NFL is selling the rights to stream its "Thursday Night Football" games next season, and at least four big tech companies are interested.
All four companies also talked to the NFL last year about the same deal, which Twitter won with a $10 million bid for the right to stream 10 games. (CBS and NBC pay a lot more for the rights to broadcast the games on television.) It's possible others have also submitted proposals.
The league is likely to make a decision within the next month, and could provide some kind of update to league owners at the NFL's Annual Meeting in Phoenix next week.
Spokespeople for Amazon, Facebook and Twitter declined to comment, as did Alex Riethmiller, a spokesperson for the NFL. YouTube did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Just like TV networks, tech companies are interested in live sports right now. Facebook and Twitter are cutting deals for virtually any live sports they can get their hands on, and Amazon is also interested in live sports deals and has been buying movie rights, too.
Live sports rights are expensive and tough to come by, though; traditional TV rights for major sports leagues like the NFL, NBA and MLB are already locked up for years. That makes these Thursday night streams the highest-profile package on the market right now.
But while the NFL deal is high profile, it's tough to tell how valuable it actually is. Twitter didn't report a meaningful spike in user growth or revenue as a result of last year's games, for instance.
Twitter claims 3.5 million people watched each game, on average, but the average audience at any given time, which is how traditional TV ratings are calculated, was just a couple hundred thousand viewers per game. CBS averaged closer to 15 million viewers per "Thursday Night Football" game last season.
That smaller audience is one of the reasons these games sold for just $10 million last year, a fraction of what the NFL makes on TV rights. These streams are not exclusive; viewers can also watch the games on NBC or CBS, NFL Network and Verizon, which has mobile distribution rights. Plus, Twitter was only allowed to sell a small percentage of the game's overall ad inventory.
In other words, this is an interesting deal, but not a huge one, especially by NFL standards. Here's a closer look at each of the NFL's potential streaming partners.