Amazon has agreed to pay $50 million to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games this season, which makes little sense to Gregg Giannotti. Why would Amazon pay so much money to stream perhaps the NFL’s worst product?
“Well, let me tell you: People said the same thing about Sunday Ticket and DirecTV when they didn’t know what they were talking about,” Harvard law school sports business expert Rick Horrow said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “The real thing is how do you get the game even if you’ve got an inferior product that other people can carry? It is an alternate opportunity to showcase the fact that you’re changing your brand – and you’re doing it in a way maybe a year or two before the official bidding process comes out.”
Take Fox Sports, for example.
“We now know Fox as mainstream, but not when they came from Australia and they were gobbling up stations,” Horrow explained. “So what do you do? Well, you buy something, get some attention, and then when the bidding process comes around, people don’t think you’re coming out of left-field; you’re coming straight out of center-field. As we know, you don’t want to be labeled a kook. If you’re labeled a kook, you can’t do anything – so this was a move to make sure you look mainstream.”
But what’s the end game for Amazon? Is it going to make a large bid for expanded streaming rights for NFL games?
“Not going to, but a reasonable chance of thinking about it, along with Snapchat, Facebook and Google,” Horrow said. “Why not open it up to a combination of regular media streaming? Why not have a bid process where all the networks can do it on their own, (do a) joint venture with a mobile media partner, or say we’re not interested in that piece? You can have the other piece. What does it mean for the NFL? It means five or six other major players who would bid on the rights. What does that mean? More money.”
It makes sense for the NFL, yes. But it seems crazy that the NFL has so much competition for a product it considered getting rid of, no?
“Let me give you the philosophical reason for why the NFL does that,” Horrow said. “It’s because they can.”
But why would Amazon want to be a part of that?
Said Horrow, “If you have an opportunity to buy something that’s not the best – but you get the opportunity to be considered a major player when you bid on the best – you take the shot.”