There’s a popular belief in the aftermath of a pair of offseason tweaks to the Thursday night package that the NFL has bowed to Amazon czar Jeff Bezos.
It’s popular, but it’s also inaccurate.
The NFL hasn’t taken steps to enhance the Amazon package as a favor to Bezos, expanding the maximum short weeks per team to two and adding late-season Thursday night flexing. As one high-level source with knowledge of the dynamics explained it to PFT on Wednesday, this is not about Amazon. They already have Amazon’s commitment.
This is about the future of streaming.
The NFL knows that it needs to boost the performance of streaming properties in order to ensure the appropriate return the next time rights deals are negotiated. Last year’s streaming numbers for Thursday Night Football did not compare favorably to the numbers generated in prior years by Fox. If the league is going to realize maximum revenue from streaming providers in the next deals, the streaming packages need to be viable.
Said the source in response to the notion that the changes aren’t about Amazon but about streaming generally, the source said this: “You’re not 99 percent right, you’re 100 percent right.”
For the NFL, the goal is to get streaming audiences as close as possible to 100 percent of what they were on broadcast TV. In this regard, there is plenty of work to be done. And not much time within which to do it.