YouTube, Amazon, and Twitter are considering bidding for the rights to stream Thursday National Football League games in the near future, Bloomberg reported Friday, citing sources with knowledge of the deliberations. The trio is understood to be prepared to part with tens of millions of dollars for a partnership that would result in interactive broadcasts with statistics and social media features such as comments. The NFL is said to be eager to deliver such a solution going forward so as to appeal to a younger demographic raised on social media and video games, insiders claim. The licensing deals that are currently being considered would run for up to five years, with 21st Century Fox being directly involved in the negotiations as the NFL's top consultant and an interested party, being the one that owns the TV rights to the association's games for the next four years.
From the NFL's perspective, a new media format has the potential to stop the decline of its TV audience that's been ongoing for several years now. Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon all have different motivations for committing significant resources to the project, with YouTube's reasoning being the most straightforward of the three; between YouTube Red and YouTube TV, the company needs new ways to promote its premium subscription services, whereas even the free video streaming platform could significantly benefit from the added audience that would be drawn to the games. Twitter's strategy is more complicated and revolves around its long-term plan to start competing with traditional streaming services once the relevant technology becomes advanced enough to make streaming sticks such as Chromecast and Fire TV obsolete and turns smartphones into the go-to devices for casting video content to TVs, which it currently estimates will happen by 2023.
Amazon primarily sees live sports as a way to boost its Prime subscriptions and consequently increase its e-commerce revenue, as numerous internal and third-party studies previously showed Prime subscribers spend significantly more on Amazon.com than other consumers. The same motivation stands behind Amazon's decision to fund Hollywood projects as part of its major video push. The second round of bidding on Thursday night football is still ongoing, with Amazon initially offering $50 million for the package but now mulling over whether to launch a second bid, insiders claim.