The NFL’s Thursday Night Football games are hugely popular, and Twitter used to benefit massively from streaming them. However, the story won’t remain the same, as the micro-blogging service has lost the rights to stream the next 10 NFL games to Amazon. The e-commerce giant competed with giants like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to secure the rights to the games.
Why the NFL ditched Twitter
Amazon and the NFL made a joint announcement regarding the deal on Tuesday. The e-commerce giant paid $50 million to the NFL for the deal, according to The Wall Street Journal. Twitter acquired the rights in 2016 for $10 million on its journey towards hosting premium live videos.
Citing it as a big achievement and a milestone, the micro-blogging firm had hoped the deal would put it back on the growth track. However, now it has lost out to Amazon. Reports claim the prime reason for losing the deal was that advertisers were not satisfied with the audience for football games on the platform.
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When Twitter streamed the games last year, it paired them with live commentary and tweets in real time. Despite that, the NFL chose to move away to Amazon since it has a bigger audience, and thus, a bigger payout as well. The fact that Twitter COO/CFO Anthony Noto is a former NFL CFO makes the loss even worse.
The NFL has many reasons to switch to Amazon. The e-commerce giant is already home to a host of television content. While Twitter just launched its video app in September, Amazon’s has been in existence for years. The deal gives the NFL a chance to hedge its bets against the dwindling number of cable subscribers by dipping its toe into digital streaming and reaching a new set of viewers.
“Reach is a focus of ours. I think Amazon has been able to demonstrate, in everything that they do, massive scale,” said Brian Rolapp, the NFL executive in charge of the league’s media deals. “I don’t think this is limiting the reach. I think this is expanding the reach.”
How the deal helps Amazon
With the NFL deal, Amazon takes its first major step towards live-streaming and marking its entry into sports. Last summer, a documentary series titled All or Nothing focused on the behind-the-scenes aspect of the game, notes Recode.
While Twitter allowed all its users to view the games for free, Amazon will only let its Prime members watch them. Prime members are required to pay $99 annually for benefits like free two-day shipping and access to selected TV shows, music and movies. According to estimates, there are more than 60 million Prime members in the U.S.
Now, professional football, the most popular sport in America, could help Amazon convince more users to subscribe to Prime. Thursday night games on TV get more than 13 million viewers. The games will be broadcast on CBS and NBC as well, while Verizon will stream them to its wireless subscribers.
On Tuesday, Twitter shares closed down 1.01% at $14.69.