- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was seen in attendance at the Super Bowl on Sunday — in the commissioner's booth.
- For football fans who root for teams in different markets from where they live, Amazon could be the key to opening up viewing options.
Nobody wants to talk about football today after the pathetic excuse for a Super Bowl on Sunday, the lowest-scoring NFL championship game ever. While New England fans never tire of watching Commissioner Roger Goodell hand the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots owner Robert Kraft or of seeing Tom Brady win yet another ring, the rest of America tuned out this year. It was the lowest-rated Super Bowl in a decade.
The most interesting thing to happen during the game wasn't on the field. It happened when CBS panned to the commissioner's booth to reveal Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos schmoozing with Goodell and some other bigwigs.
Seattle Seahawks fans speculated that Bezos might be in attendance to bend Goodell's ear about buying the team from Jodi Allen, the sister of late owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died last year. But there's a more exciting possibility.
What if the world's wealthiest person was in Atlanta to lay the groundwork for Amazon taking over the NFL's Sunday Ticket deal from AT&T's DirecTV? That could be a dream come true for NFL fans everywhere, especially those (like me) who live in TV markets outside of where their favorite team plays.
For those of you who aren't NFL football fans, an explanation is in order. Each Sunday during the regular season, between three and 10 games air during the two main slots at 1 p.m. and around 4 p.m. Eastern time. All of those games are televised. But NFL rules require local stations to broadcast the game being played by any team in that TV market. No other games can supersede that game. So if you live in San Francisco, like me, you'll be forced to watch the execrable Oakland Raiders (as long as they're still here) and San Francisco 49ers (who now play in Santa Clara), even though I'm a die-hard Seahawks fan.
The way around this, until now, has been through the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is only available to DirecTV subscribers. I'd have to cancel my cable, sign up for DirecTV, and then pay an additional $300 (or more) for four months of Sunday Ticket, which gives me the right to watch every game.
But even if I wanted to swap cable for DirecTV, I don't want to watch every game. I want to watch Seahawks games, and maybe the occasional conference game that affects Seattle's playoff chances.
The other option is to go a bar — Danny Coyle's on Haight Street is the Seahawks bar in San Francisco — but that means I don't get to watch with my 8-year-old son. There are also illegal streams available via Reddit, but they're unreliable, plagued by interruptions and pop-up windows. Or so I hear.
DirecTV's deal with the NFL expires in 2022.
What I'd like to see is for Amazon to take over, then negotiate with the NFL to blast apart the all-or-nothing bundle for out-of-market games, and instead sell them a la carte. I'd pay $20 every week the Seahawks aren't televised locally just to watch from the couch with my son. I'm sure many other casual football fans are in the same situation. The hardcore fans who need to watch every game to keep track of their fantasy players will still pay top dollar, but the NFL is passing up extra cash from people like me.
I can only hope Bezos was making the same argument to Goodell on Sunday.