Another bidding war involving the NFL is happening.
Every time the NFL puts streaming rights up for grabs, the biggest companies in consumer technology immediately rush to hold conversations with the league. We’ve seen it before. We’re seeing it again. The NFL, according to Recode, has received proposals from multiple companies interested in gaining streaming rights for Thursday Night Football in 2017.
The league’s content in among the most valuable in the world. Millions of people in the United States watch each and every NFL game on television, but viewers are increasingly seeking options away from traditional television providers. The companies engaged in the ongoing bidding war right now each host massive user bases that could elevate the NFL’s digital profile.
Now things are really heating up since the NFL wants to announce its 2017 partner within the next month or so. Proposals are in and the league is examining them.
Google, Facebook, and Amazon have each submitted competing bids against Twitter for streaming rights for Thursday Night Football next season and possibly beyond. Spokespeople from every company involved in the bidding war declined a request for comment from Recode. They all want to keep their plans hidden until the NFL makes a decision.
Twitter, as you may recall, was the digital home to Thursday Night Football in 2016 while games were still televised on CBS and NBC. The social network paid around $10 million for ten games to be available on its apps. Considering the success of the NFL on Twitter, the next deal’s value could multiply. Twitter says each game averaged 3.5 million viewers. On television, the games averaged 13+ million viewers. It’s not close, but digital platforms would love to have the numbers Twitter enjoyed.
One name being left out is Verizon, which was eyeing additional streaming rights last year for Go90. It’s exclusivity as the only place to watch NFL games on phones expired after Super Bowl LI in February; therefore, Verizon may want to focus on renewing that agreement before doing anything else. Also, Go90 is in a shaky state right now and Big Red appears to have taken resources away from the service. Twitter doesn’t have to worry about Verizon, but it should definitely fear the massive checks the others could write.
What would the interested companies do with NFL games? That’s easy to answer. Google would stream the games on YouTube, especially since YouTube TV is going live soon. Facebook, meanwhile, would integrate football with the Facebook Live. And Amazon could use the NFL as a driver for Prime memberships. Twitter’s sole advantage is its place in the world as the go-to spot for real-time conversations on social media. When something big happens, it’s talked about on Twitter.
The NFL’s Annual League Meeting is being held in Phoenix on March 26. It’s likely the streaming rights for Thursday Night Football are discussed between the league and team owners during, but an official announcement is expected sometime in April.