By Evan DeSimone
The NFL is once again looking for a home for “Thursday Night Football,” and for the first time the major networks will be facing competition from digital outlets.
In addition to the usual suspects — CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC and Turner, the NFL has sent RFPs to leading online platforms including Google, Yahoo, Apple and Amazon. Currently, the league is aiming to have Thursday night games simulcast on television and a streaming service. These simultaneous streams would carry the same ads and additional produced content as the concurrent television broadcasts.
The deal would require a two-year commitment from both partners. The NFL has set the bidding floor for the package at $300 million, and, as is a traditional with the league’s deals, there will a built-in price increase in year two.
It’s possible that such a high price tag, coupled with a lack of exclusivity, may make some streamers hesitate. Live streaming sports content is still releatively untested ground and only a few platforms have attempted it on even a limited basis. Yahoo was recently willing to spend $15 million for the right to stream just one live NFL game. However, that game was exclusive to Yahoo. Also, the failure of Yahoo’s video strategy, to the tune of a $42 million write-down, might give competitors pause before following in its footsteps.