The list of exclusive offers Amazon.com Inc. AMZNZ has for its Prime members has grown. Amazon Prime now includes several perks, and the Jeff Bezos-founded company may get a major boost thanks to its latest Prime Video initiative.
What Happened: The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is paying an estimated $1 billion annually for the rights to “Thursday Night Football” games from the National Football League (NFL).
The deal makes Amazon the first streaming company to have exclusive NFL game coverage and follows up the 2021 season that saw Amazon share the rights to several games.
The week two matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs was the first Amazon-exclusive game under the new deal.
Official viewership figures aren’t available, but Amazon has shared some key figures on the success of the new rights deal.
Jay Marine, the Vice President of Prime Video and Global Head of Sports, send a memo to Amazon’s staff that said the viewership of the “Thursday Night Football” game should come in above the 12.5 million the company promised to advertisers.
“While we’re still waiting for official Nielsen ratings, our measurement shows that the audience numbers exceeded all of our expectations for viewership,” Marine said.
Some analysts expected viewership for Amazon’s first “Thursday Night Football” game to come in the seven to eight million range.
The “Thursday Night Football” game was between the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. It aired in Week 15 of the 2021 season. That game, which aired on Fox FOXFOXA and NFL Network had 17.9 million viewers.
Amazon’s coverage of “Thursday Night Football” is tracked by Nielsen NLSN, with official figures set to be released sometime later this week.
Along with strong viewership, Marine noted that Amazon reached several milestones thanks to its coverage of “Thursday Night Football.”
Marine said “Thursday Night Football” was the most watched night of primetime content in Prime Video’s history. The game, which was exclusive to Prime subscribers, also led to strong sign-ups for Amazon Prime.
“The biggest three hours for U.S. Prime sign-ups ever in the history of Amazon – including Prime Day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday.”
Why It’s Important: Amazon showed plenty of advertisements for its own service and products during the “Thursday Night Football” game, a move that could payoff big for the company with an increase in Prime memberships.
Some advertisers were hesitant to put ads on the coverage from Amazon as it did not know how strong viewership would be. With the strong ratings, Amazon could see a huge influx of advertisers looking to air commercials for future games.
Benzinga shared that week 1 NFL games averaged 18.5 million viewers, up 3% from last season’s first week. This marked the best start to an NFL season since 2016. Over 121 million people watched NFL games in the first week, a figure up 5% from the previous year.
Media companies Comcast Corporation CMCSA, Fox, Paramount Global PARAPARAA and The Walt Disney Company DIS posted strong viewership in the first week.
Media companies continue to spend billions of dollars for the rights to sports content, with the NFL being the holy grail for viewership. Amazon is one of several streaming companies looking to grow content and subscribers through sports rights. The NFL saw media rights increase 82% annually with new deals that began in 2022.
Strong viewership for “Thursday Night Football” could lead to even more aggressive bidding by streaming companies as sports rights come up for renewal.
Amazon and Apple Inc. AAPL are among the interested parties in the NFL Sunday Ticket offering that is up for a new contract that begins with the 2023 season. The NFL is looking to sell the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket and an equity stake in NFL Media. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in July that a streaming company will land the NFL Sunday Ticket. AT&T Inc. T owned DirecTV currently has the NFL Sunday Ticket and has struggled with problems in the first two weeks of the NFL season.
Amazon Prime has a cost of $14.99 per month or $139 per year.
AMZN Price Action: Amazon shares are up 1% to $124.66 on Tuesday. Shares of Amazon have traded between $101.26 and $188.11 over the last 52 weeks.
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