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The NFL’s deal with Amazon for Thursday Night Football could have fans missing games

Could NFL fans be strong-armed into buying Amazon Prime to watch Thursday Night Football?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the National Football League, and their fans, Thursday Night Football (TNF) can be a sensitive subject. Players tend to hate it due to the quick turnaround, while many fans love having another day of the week to enjoy their favorite sport on television.

Since Thursday Night Football became an every week event, the games have bounced around from station to station. At one point only on the NFL Network, and last season the games were found on FOX. However, TNF will be finding a new home in 2022.

Where will you be catching TNF games in 2022, and beyond? How about Amazon. Yes, you read that correctly. As of now, TNF games will only be able to be viewed by Amazon Prime members and on Amazon Prime Video.

This from Alex Sherman of CNBC:

Amazon Prime Video’s exclusive 15-game “Thursday Night Football” package will now debut in 2022, a year earlier than previously announced, the company said Monday.

Amazon made history last month when it became the first all-streaming provider to agree to carry a weekly package of National Football League games. The technology giant is paying $1 billion per season for the exclusive rights.

Amazon’s deal will now run 11 years, matching the length of the Sunday and Monday packages acquired by Disney, Comcast, ViacomCBS and FOX. The Prime Video package is for 15 Thursday night games and one pre-season game each season.

If you were like me, you read the above information, or maybe saw a headline, and thought to yourself, “That’s fine, I’ll just watch it on NFL Network on on the NFL app.” But that might not be an option.

“We look forward to bringing Thursday Night Football exclusively to Prime members in 2022, a year earlier than previously announced,” said Marie Donoghue, vice president of global sports video at Amazon, in a statement. “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.”

The key word in the above quote is ‘exclusive’, meaning if you aren’t a prime member and don’t have access to Amazon Prime Video, or you aren’t in the local viewing area, don’t expect to watch TNF for the foreseeable future. Talk about strong-arming people into paying for a service which was already covered by most television packages in 2021.

For those wondering, a Prime Video membership costs $8.99 per month, but it’s also included with Amazon Prime which costs $12.99 per month, or $119 a year.

This news is coming on the heals of the NFL preparing to potentially move to more streaming services. There is already discussion of moving the Sunday Ticket package from DirecTV/AT&T to other streaming services, like ESPN+.

“We have meetings later this week on this, it’s been a regular pattern of meetings,” Goodell said prior to the Super Bowl. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest from some terrific media partners, technology partners that are interested in our content, interested in our platforms, interested in everything from Sunday Ticket to NFL Network to RedZone to a lot of media assets we still have available, and we’re looking to deploy in a way that looks to the future in the next generation of media.”

The NFL is a billion dollar organization for a reason, and they are going to do what is best for their bottom line. If it means forcing customers to shell out monthly/yearly subscriptions, then so be it. They won’t bat an eye because the vast majority of fans will do whatever it takes to watch their favorite sport.

While the Thursday Night Football deal is set, the future of Sunday Ticket remains in the air. So, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the start of the new league year and the 2022 NFL Draft.