Amazon to Exclusively Host Thursday Night Football Starting with 2022 NFL Season

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 3, 2021

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 03: An AWS - Amazon Web Services ad board shown inside Century Link Field during an NFL game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks on October 3, 2019, at Century Link Field in Seattle, WA. (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thursday Night Football is coming to Amazon a year earlier than expected.

The NFL announced games will begin streaming on Amazon beginning with the 2022 season, a year earlier than previously announced. Fox agreed to exit its existing partnership with NFL Network to broadcast the games a year early as part of the new arrangement.

“This expedited deal is an immediate differentiator for us as a service, as it gives Prime members exclusive access to the most popular sport in the United States,” said Marie Donoghue, Amazon’s vice president of global sports video.

While games will continue to be aired on free, over-the-air networks in local markets, this deal will mark the first time an exclusive rights package is held by a streaming service for any of the United States' major professional sports leagues.

The 2021 season will be the last in which Fox and NFL Network share Thursday Night Football broadcasting duties.

The NFL is taking a chance in its partnership with Amazon, given the league has long touted that its games are all available on regular television. Amazon is paying roughly $1 billion per year for broadcast rights. It is unclear if the new agreement will tack on an additional $1 billion for the NFL, though that appears to be the most likely scenario.

Amazon does not typically release ratings for its original programming available on Prime Video. Thursday Night Football averaged 14.1 million viewers in 2020, slightly down from 2019 but still strong enough to regularly win the night in terms of overall viewership and the coveted 18-49 demographic. 

Amazon Prime has roughly 200 million worldwide subscribers. The company has not revealed how many people use the Prime Video service that's included in Prime subscriptions.

It's likely Amazon is banking on the NFL playing a major part in its attempts to expand Prime Video's offerings and subscriptions.