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NFL Embraces Streaming; Games Coming to Amazon, Peacock, Paramount Plus

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Thursday Night Football will be leaving Fox and heading to Amazon beginning in 2023, the NFL announced Thursday as part of a slew of rights deals related to TV and streaming.

CBS and Fox will continue to air games on Sunday afternoon, while NBC is hanging onto Sunday Night Football and ESPN is sticking with Monday Night Football. The 12-year deals run through 2033, and give ESPN the rights to air two Super Bowls over the course of the contract.

Though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declined to address the terms of the deal, reports say that when combined, all of these deals and packages could amount to between $100 billion and $105 billion — significantly more than the last round of contracts.

To break that down, Variety estimates that Fox and NBC each pay $2 billion per year to air the Sunday NFC package (30-second ad rate as of 2019: $461,345) and Sunday Night Football (ad rate: $608,625), respectively. That’s $4 billion combined, multiplied by 12 years, so $48 billion — and that’s before counting CBS’ AFC package on Sunday (ad rate: $353,911) and ESPN’s deal for Monday Night Football (ad rate: $277,605).

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Supposing those are worth more than $48 billion since Variety noted that NBC and Fox were paying the least, that would mean Amazon’s 10-year deal would be worth somewhere between $2 billion and $7 billion. I’d guess it’s a $5 billion deal ($500 million a year) because Amazon surely knows that the Thursday night games don’t pull the same ratings, though I can also imagine a scenario in which the e-commerce giant may have had to overbid to get its foot in the NFL’s door. As of 2019, Fox was getting $496,232 for a 30-second spot on Thursday Night Football.

Variety adds that the NFL’s last contracts with Fox and NBC called for them to pay $1.1 billion and $950 million, respectively, indicating that Sunday Night Football is the cheapest package besides the Thursday night games. That may be because HBO (and Showtime) tends to air its premium shows on Sunday nights, and shows like Game of Thrones actually manage to compete with the NFL for ratings.

Amazon’s deal, which again, doesn’t start until 2023, means that Thursday Night Football will no longer be shown on broadcast TV. It’s unclear whether Prime Video subscribers will only be able to watch the game live, or whether it will be available in the hours and days after the final whistle.

“Amazon will be producing their own games and they will bring and new and interesting ways” to doing so, NFL Media exec Hans Schroeder said during a media call on Thursday.

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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who serves as chairman of the NFL Media Committee, said that NFL and TV executives “understand streaming is truly the future” before noting that the new round of deals will usher in “a smooth, consumer-friendly transition to what we all know will be the future form of content distribution.”

To that end, these high-priced deals allow networks to simulcast games on their streaming platforms, so you’ll be able to watch Sunday Night Football not just on NBC, but on Peacock as well. In fact, one Variety source tells the trade that Peacock will get to air some games exclusively at some point during the run of the new contract.

Likewise, ViacomCBS will be allowed to simulcast games on its new streaming platform Paramount Plus, while ESPN Plus will be able to simulcast all ABC and ESPN games. As for Fox, will get to broadcast games on Christmas, and expand the number of games it can air on its Spanish-language service Fox Deportes. The company will also now have the option to stream certain games on its Tubi service and align NFL games with its Fox Bet gaming business, according to Variety.

Finally, the NFL Network, which had previously shared rights to broadcast Thursday Night Football, will continue to televise select NFL games on a yearly basis.

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Not everyone was happy about the NFL’s new deal with Fox, as NAACP president/CEO Derrick Johnson accused Fox of exploiting the NFL and its mostly-Black workforce while Fox News fans the flames of racism in America.

“For several decades, the Fox Corporation, and more specifically, Fox News has represented the worst traditions of American broadcasting. The media outlet has used its news division to sow bigotry and racism, create dissension, spread misinformation, and promote conspiracy theories that ultimately led to an insurrection against the U.S. Capitol. It is safe to say, the views and opinions of Fox News are often squarely positioned against the progression of our democracy and not in the general public’s best interest,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Here’s something that many do not know. Fox actively exploits its Fox Sports licensing deal with the NFL by extracting increasingly high cable subscriber fees to subsidize Fox News programming. This is the same network that has used its hosts and personalities to regularly attack the NFL and its players for promoting racial justice. However, this is just one aspect of its inaccurate, incendiary coverage of racial injustice. Network personalities routinely attack Black Lives Matter and downplay the existence of systemic racism and police brutality. A league where nearly 70% of the players are Black and prides itself as America’s favorite sports pastime, should not be complicit in helping to increase the profits of Fox News,” added Johnson, who continued to hold the league accountable.

“The NFL should immediately rethink its relationship with Fox, given all that Fox has done to harm its players and the franchise. It’s disturbing that this renewal is even on the table. Fox has further fomented racism, undermined the public health response to the pandemic, and attacked the election’s legitimacy at a volatile time,” said Johnson, who hoped to speak with Goodell despite the deal already being done.

“The NAACP is requesting a formal meeting with NFL leadership to discuss the unscrupulous tactics employed by Fox to underwrite hate speech and the un-American attacks on those that stand for racial equity and justice. The NAACP is ready to work in tandem with the NFL and hold Fox accountable.”

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