Back in February, John Ourand reported that Amazon was trying to land an exclusive NFL game on Black Friday, but that the league was “lukewarm” to the idea. Well, it now seems like they’ve warmed up. Peter King writes at NBC Sports that NFL owners last month passed a resolution allowing the league to schedule two more teams for a second short-week game. That could lead to a Black Friday game as early as this season, but King writes that it’s certainly expected to lead to one by 2023 at the latest. Here’s more from his piece:
The deal’s not done yet. It’s not as easy as it seems. There’s some opposition in the league about playing a game on Nov. 25, and there’s a decent chance the NFL will put off a Black Friday game on Amazon Prime till 2023. But it’s going to happen, I’m told, by next year at the latest.
Amazon has made a huge bid for the game. I’m told it’s between $70 million and $100 million for a Black Friday game, which would be added to the current package. (That’s in the same neighborhood of what network partners have paid for wild-card playoff games recently.) Seems like a win-win.
As King notes, that’s an exceptionally high cost for a single regular-season game. (For comparison, a single exclusive game for Yahoo in 2015 reportedly cost $10 million, although that was for an early-morning international window, a recent NFL focus, rather than one at a peak U.S. time.) But as he also notes, this particular game is exceptionally valuable for Amazon (and likely much more so than it would be for any other broadcaster) given Amazon’s e-commerce revenue streams.
Those streams are already a big part of why Amazon can pay more for rights than many competitors. It’s not just about audience and advertising for them; it’s about those games also working as ways to also sell related products to viewers through Amazon’s commerce portals. And that’s particularly crucial with Black Friday, typically the busiest U.S. shopping day of the year, and one where Amazon captured a reported 17.7 percent of all sales last year. A NFL game on that day exclusively broadcast on Amazon Prime Video seems like something that could further boost their Black Friday sales efforts, and something that’s probably worth a lot of money to them. (And if they do wind up getting a Big Ten Friday night package, this might pair with that nicely.)
But this isn’t necessarily a “win-win” for everyone. One issue is this inserts yet another short-rest game into the NFL schedule; yes, this is minimal compared to the way Thursday Night Football has expanded over the years, and to the addition of a 17th-regular season game and more playoff games, but it is another addition there. Another challenge is what this means for in-person fans of the home team; trying to attend a game in person on Black Friday might pose problems on multiple levels, from what it means for shopping plans to how it affects other post-Thanksgiving routines. And, as we’ve seen with the many complaints about other Friday broadcasts, lots of people don’t like games that night for multiple reasons. Still, if Amazon is going to back up a money truck of this order, and if the NFL is onside with taking it, it does seem like this is going to happen.