The NFL is in the middle of wrapping up its latest round of broadcast rights with television networks and streaming services. For the most part we’ll see more of the same for years to come — CBS and FOX carry Sunday morning/afternoon games, NBC has Sunday Night Football, ESPN/ABC has Monday Night Football — but Thursday Night Football is a different story.
A Wall Street Journal report says that the league is in talks with Amazon to take over the bulk of the TNF package and stream the games exclusively on Prime Video. If a deal is struck, the move off of the FOX/Amazon Prime/NFL Network simulcasts wouldn’t take effect until after the 2022 season.
Per the report, the NFL Network would continue to have exclusive broadcast rights to some Thursday and Saturday games as they do now. Current contract terms stipulate NFLN must carry at least five games per season.
It’s no secret that the NFL has been cozy with Amazon with the hope of something bigger than just simulcasting televised games. Amazon Prime was the sole broadcaster for the 49ers at Cardinals Week 16 game last season, with only local markets carrying it live on TV. Amazon has shown TNF and a couple of non-Thursday games (but sold as part of the Thursday package) dating back to 2017, but exclusivity would be their biggest get yet.
Personally, I just want to see NFL RedZone as part of the Amazon Prime subscription or at least as an add-on. I’d even take a standalone streaming option independent of having to subscribe to Sling or Fubo or YouTube TV. There’s no word on any of that though, much to my disappointment.
Oh yes, and I should note that if/when contracts are announced soon, the plan is for ABC to return to the Super Bowl rotation for the first time since XL in 2006. A new Monday Night Football contract would begin after 2021, whereas everyone else would be the following season.