« Back to Posts

Week In Review: Amazon Gets The NFL, Amazon Gets News

1. Amazon Gets The NFL

The NFL signed a long term (as in 11 years) deals with a number of partners, the most notable being Amazon, which now has rights to Thursday Night Football, allegedly for a whopping one billion dollars. 

The same deal also has Disney (ABC/ESPN) rejoining the NFL family and ViacomCBS (Paramount+). Fox (Tubi) and Comcast (Peacock) staying on board.

Why It Matters

First and foremost, it’s a brilliant move by the NFL to capitalize on its 2021 level glory by charging out the proverbial wazoo for rights to games that may not be particularly wazoo-worthy in 2033.

(They may also be more wazoo-worthy by then and everyone looks like a genius, but the trend has been in the opposite direction.)

Just as noteworthy is Amazon’s presence.

They’ve knocked Fox out of the Thursday night spot and now they can work their magic on live sports.

Amazon, to click back a screen, is an odd duck in terms of streaming platform in that few people who subscribe can say with great certainty that they only have it for the programming or that they only have it for the free two-day delivery.

For most folks, as the Facebook “Relationship” option notes, it’s complicated.

What Amazon does have, however, is a world of data about you, the consumer, and no fear of violating your privacy given that they know what you’ve bought and you’ve given them permission to use it within their platform.

That opens up a world of marketing possibilities for the NFL, given that Amazon also has the ability to play around with timing and pricing on their offers. Meaning they can quickly determine whether viewers in certain Tampa Bay area zip codes are more or less likely to buy a Tom Brady jersey the day before the game, all while fine tuning the price to ensure maximum profitability.

It also affords them the chance to introduce their ad platform to the big brands that advertise during NFL games, showing them the beauty of “ads that aren’t really ads” like a special code that lets people who’ve just watched a Dallas Cowboys game where Old Spice was an advertiser save 20% on shampoo and body wash the next time they’re on Amazon.

The possibilities are pretty endless.

The other thing it does is get people accustomed to the idea of watching live TV on streaming. 

This is not mindblowing–streaming is just a delivery system–but getting people used to watching the NFL on streaming opens the door for other sports and other live events.

Speaking of streaming, all of the Big Four networks now have streaming outlets they can run their games on and likely will, as the shift to streaming becomes more pronounced.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an industry observer, note the date when more people are watching NFL games on Paramount+ than on CBS (or any similar combination)–that will be a big turning point for the industry, the moment that streaming officially “won.”

If you’re an advertiser, you have nothing to lose from seeing what Amazon can do for you, what sort of ad packages they can pull together and what sort of metrics they can provide you with. Amazon’s probably not going to sell you a branding campaign, but if you need to move product, it seems like a safe bet.

If you’re an NFL fan, rejoice. You’re more or less set for the next 11 years. 

2. Amazon Gets News

Lost in the hoopla around the NFL deal was the news that Amazon has struck deals with 88 more local TV stations to get their content onto the News app on Fire TV.

Amazon’s local news comes from stations owned by ABC, CBS, Tegna, Cox, Scripps and Altice.

Why It Matters

Local news and sports are the two big things keeping people tied to traditional cable bundles, and Amazon is giving them a reason to break free if news is the issue.

Getting local news stations on board anything to do with streaming has never been easy and so kudos to Amazon for making this happen.

It’s also important from a societal standpoint, as local news has been taking a major hit in the digital era and Amazon is providing a way to keep it relevant.

They are also giving people a reason to buy a Fire TV stick. As in, I could easily see spending $29 for an alternate device that gave me my local news as well as national news from ABC, CBS, Reuters and Cheddar.

Amazon isn’t the only one looking to do local news online. There’s Haystack, an ad-supported app that also has many local stations, plus Sinclair’s STIRR and Tubi’s News section.

Still, with 88 cities represented and Amazon’s deep pockets, this is a big step forward for local news.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a local broadcaster and you have not signed up with Amazon, Haystack, Stirr, Tubi or another aggregator, WTF? You’re going to become irrelevant if you don’t, especially if any of the other local broadcasters in your market are on board. TV is changing and you need to change along with it.

If you’ve been thinking about moving to streaming-only delivery, only you were worried about local news, check out the aforementioned services. You might find your worries were misplaced.

If you’re AT&T and you’re trying to unload CNN (or one of the private equity companies looking to buy it) remember that the entire industry is waiting to see how CNN on streaming is going to shake out and that if you figure it out correctly and people can watch CNN without a pay TV subscription, that’s going to accelerate the shift to streaming in a meaningful fashion.

If you’re Comcast, I get that you want to protect your cable business, but running a live stream of MSNBC on Peacock the way VCBS is running a live stream of CBS News on Paramount+ would be a very smart move. Ditto the news from your local affiliates, another smart Paramount+ move that’s worth emulating.