Several of the nation’s biggest tech companies are set to battle it out for the right to stream Thursday night National Football League (NFL) games.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Twitter Inc. (TWTR) and Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) YouTube are each weighing bids of as much as hundreds of millions of dollars to stream games over the course of as many as five years. According to Recode, Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), which already owns some mobile streaming rights for Thursday night football, is also interested in potentially putting a bid forward.
The NFL wants the winning candidate to provide interactive streams with social media commentary and statistics, the sources said. The sport organization hopes such an offering could help to pry away younger viewers from video games and Snapchat.
The streaming package is being sold to complement the NFL’s existing broadcast deal, meaning that whichever tech company wins the rights will re-transmit what is already on regular TV. The organization has been battling with declining TV audiences over the past few years, but is reluctant to award full rights to an online provider and already has agreements in place with broadcasters until at least 2021.
It is unclear how much the NFL hopes to charge for online streaming rights in 2018. However, the package is likely to sell for more than what Amazon agreed to spend in the last bidding round. The e-commerce giant paid $50 million for the rights in 2017, significantly more than the $10 million Twitter forked out in 2016. (See also: Amazon Wins Thursday Night NFL Streaming Rights.)
According to Bloomberg’s sources, Amazon isn’t sure whether to bid this time around, due to concerns that the NFL’s new proposals requests could limit the number of viewers it is able to attract. YouTube, the only company without a prior streaming relationship with the league, currently appears to be more enthusiastic.
Earlier this week, at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said she’d “love to stream” the NFL. YouTube and Twitter both declined to comment on speculation that they are involved in ongoing talks to stream Thursday night football.
The NFL recently sold the television broadcast rights for Thursday night football to 21st Century Fox Inc.'s (FOX) Fox Sports for $3.3 billion. That figure represents $660 million per year over five years and is nearly 47 percent higher than the $450 million Comcast Corp.’s (CMCSA) NBC and CBS Corp. (CBS) paid to broadcast 10 Thursday night Football games in 2017. (See also: How The NFL Makes Money.)