Amazon to exclusively stream an NFL game next season in new deal

Key Points
  • The National Football League and Amazon have agreed to renew their streaming partnership for Thursday night games.
  • For the first time, Amazon will have exclusive TV rights to a game, which will air on a Saturday late in the season.
  • Terms of the renewal were not disclosed, but insiders tell CNBC the deal is worth more than the previous $130 million agreement in 2018. 
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
Andy Lyons | Getty Images

The National Football League is renewing its streaming deal with Amazon, the league announced Wednesday.

The deal is a three-year agreement that keeps Amazon as an exclusive partner for live digital streaming of the NFL's Thursday Night Football package. Terms of the renewal were not disclosed, but the package is worth more than its previous $65 million annual valuation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

As part of the new agreement, not only will Amazon air Fox's Thursday broadcast, the company will also stream an exclusive national regular-season game on the company's Prime Video and Twitch platforms. This year's game will be a late-season Saturday contest, the NFL said.

The exclusive game will emulate the NFL's previous agreement deal with Yahoo in 2017, but it won't be game played outside the U.S. like it was in the Yahoo deal. It will also be available to Verizon mobile customers to watch on smartphones through the Yahoo Sports app, the person said. The local broadcast stations of the two teams that play in the game will also have broadcast access, the person said.

This is the first time Amazon will be an exclusive TV provider of a game. Amazon will have similar exclusivity for the next two seasons after 2020 under the deal, though the game may not be a late-season Saturday telecast, the person said.

Another person with knowledge of the agreement said the Amazon game will be produced by one of the league's network partners (CBS, NBC or FOX). 

The NFL will get insight into Amazon's national reach and technical streaming technology by striking the exclusive deal. That may be important as the league considers which media or tech company will get Sunday Ticket rights, which expire after the 2022 season. The deal announcement comes almost two years to the day after Amazon and the NFL struck its last deal that paid the NFL over $60 million per season.

According to Sports Business Journal, the league has already started negotiations for renewing broadcast partnerships, which is expected to pay the league more than its estimated $5 billion per year it currently receives. 

The deal with Amazon is yet another victory for a league that continues to operate almost normally while Covid-19 is severely impacting other U.S. leagues, including the National Basketball Association, which is shut down indefinitely.

With its highly-rated virtual draft now concluded, the NFL has started dialogue with some owners about future planning should the coronavirus pandemic continue to halt live events, according to a person familiar with the matter.

According to the person, the NFL has yet to discuss serious contingency options as the league believes it will start its 2020 season on time in September. Despite initial threats from local and state governments, the belief is NFL owners remain confident about starting its new year without interference, the person said.

On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom laid out options for re-opening sporting events in Stage 3 of a plan to restart the state's economy.


Tuesday's call with a group of owners also discussed plans for league and team staff to re-enter workplaces. The plan would then expand to coaching staff, before shifting to players, the person said.

The NFL is set to open training camps in July with more than 100 people, including players and team staff.

Rishe: I wouldn't be surprised if NFL draft viewership surpassed 10 million