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Amazon Expands NFL Coverage With Playoff Game--3rd Update

14/10/2020 9:05pm

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By Joe Flint 

Amazon.com Inc. has struck a deal with the National Football League to stream a playoff game this season, people familiar with the matter said.

The agreement, which the league disclosed to team owners Wednesday during a video meeting, deepens the relationship between the nation's premier sport and the online retail and entertainment giant.

Amazon already streams 11 Thursday Night Football games annually and has been looking to carry more football on its Amazon Prime Video platform. Amazon renewed its Thursday Night Football deal earlier this year for three seasons in a pact worth at least $75 million annually, according to an industry executive with knowledge of NFL media rights.

Terms for the playoff game weren't disclosed, but they are significantly higher than the per-game range Amazon is paying for regular season matches, a person briefed on the matter said.

The game Amazon will stream is one of the two new "wildcard" playoff games the NFL added to its postseason schedule, the people familiar with the matter said. Amazon will be sharing the Jan. 10 game with ViacomCBS Inc.'s CBS broadcast network and Nickelodeon kids channel. CBS Sports paid about $70 million for the rights to that game, which will include the ability to stream it on its own online platform, according to people familiar with the situation.

Comcast Corp.'s NBC Sports acquired the rights to the second new wildcard game for $75 million and it will stream that game on its new Peacock platform as well as carry it on its broadcast network.

The Amazon deal comes as the NFL is facing one of its most challenging seasons ever. The coronavirus has forced the league to move games around after players on the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots tested positive for the virus. That created a domino effect throughout the league leading to an extremely rare Tuesday night football game this week so the NFL could try to stay on track for its goal of finishing the regular season in 17 weeks.

Although the virus has taken center stage for the league, the NFL has put a priority on striking new long-term agreements with its media partners including CBS, NBC and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and has had some preliminary discussions.

The current agreements still have some time left on them. ESPN's "Monday Night Football" pact expires at the end of the 2021 season and the other contracts run through the 2022 season. However, the NFL and its partners typically like to strike long-term agreements well in advance of current deals expiring.

While it is expected that the primary TV partners will remain ESPN, Fox Corp's Fox, CBS and NBC, the league has in recent years sliced and diced its schedule to increase the number of outlets with games and create additional revenue streams. That is expected again in the next round of deals, and there is anticipation that Amazon may negotiate to stream games on Sunday afternoons, people close to the talks have said.

Ratings for this season are down slightly from a year earlier, which league and network officials attribute to the heavy news cycle, including a presidential election and the coronavirus. Ratings for the NFL also dropped during the 2016 presidential election.

Even with the decline, NFL football still dominates the ratings. Since the season started on Sept. 10, 18 of the top-20 most watched telecasts were NFL games. Only the presidential and vice presidential debates managed to crack that list.

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 14, 2020 15:50 ET (19:50 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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