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Amazon snags streaming rights to Thursday night NFL games

The internet retail giant wins the bidding war to stream 10 games during the coming season.

Amazon makes a nice catch, grabbing the streaming rights for 10 NFL games during the upcoming season.
Al Bello/Getty Images

It's game on for Amazon.

The internet retail giant has reached a deal with the National Football League to stream 10 "Thursday Night Football" games during the coming season, an Amazon representative said Tuesday. The one-year pact is reported at about $50 million.

Amazon was in a bidding war for the NFL streaming rights with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter -- the latter of which had the deal last season. The new deal's reported value is five times what Twitter paid for the 2016 streaming rights.

"We are continually looking for ways to deliver our games to fans wherever they watch, whether on television or on digital platforms and we are thrilled to bring Thursday Night Football to Amazon," Brian Rolapp, the NFL's chief media and business officer, said in a statement Wednesday.

While Twitter streamed the games to all users on its free social network site, Amazon's games will be available only to its Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 annually for free, two-day shipping and other benefits, such as access to music, movies and TV shows.

Amazon Prime is available in more than 200 countries, according to the company. It has more than 60 million members in the US alone, according to analyst estimates.

Amazon is apparently hoping to beef up those numbers with the help of pro football, which consistently ranks as America's most popular sport, with the Super Bowl traditionally one of the most-watched televised events of the year. An estimated 13 million viewers watch Thursday night games on TV.

This isn't the only deal between Amazon and the NFL. Amazon airs the Emmy-nominated NFL Films-produced series "All or Nothing," which focuses on the highs and lows of an NFL team. This season will focus on the Los Angeles Rams.

"And we're thrilled to extend our ongoing content relationship with the NFL -- the gold standard for sports entertainment - on behalf of our Prime customers," Jeff Blackburn, Amazon's vice president of business development and entertainment, said Wednesday in a statement.

During the 2016 season, Twitter signed a $10 million deal with the NFL to stream 10 games on Thursday nights, pairing the social network's live commentary and tweets with the game in real time. But Facebook, Amazon and YouTube all boast bigger audiences than Twitter, and that statistic -- along with the bigger payout -- might have helped entice the NFL to move away from Twitter.

Thursday Night Football also airs on NBC, CBS and the NFL Network cable channel, pitting online streaming against traditional broadcasts. (Disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company.)

First published April 4, 5:53 p.m. PT.
Updated, April 5 at 3:45 p.m.: Adds comment from Amazon and the NFL.

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