Thursday Night Football 2

Despite some underwhelming streaming numbers for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football on Twitter, there is no shortage of suitors in a new round of bidding. Recode is reporting that in addition to Twitter, Amazon, Facebook and YouTube (through Google) have submitted proposals to the NFL in hopes become the online home of TNF for the 2017 regular season.

The same four companies bid last year which saw Twitter win the rights with a $10 million bid. Last season, Twitter streamed the ten games which were broadcast on CBS and NBC. Another six games which aired only on NFL Network were not part of the streaming package.

Twitter said an average of 3.5 million people watched per game, but based on the traditional TV ratings metric, the average audience that watched online was just about 200,000 per game. CBS and NBC saw audiences in the range 15-18 million viewers on television which is why Twitter’s rights was significantly lower than the networks. But even with that in mind, the online rights are coveted by all of the bidders.

Twitter definitely has an advantage being the incumbent and thanks to its NFL deal, has been able to bring in other sports leagues such as MLB, NBA and NHL for either live games or pregame content.

Reportedly, Facebook and the NFL could not come together on an agreement over how to run ads on its platform. Can they resolve their differences to the NFL’s liking this time around?

Amazon is actively seeking live sports and the NFL would be a huge feather in its cap. It offered the NFL more money than Twitter, but the league liked Twitter’s international distribution better.

YouTube definitely has global reach and has been running ads on its platforms for years, but it is coming under scrutiny from some advertisers for putting their commercials on what could be deemed offensive content.

The NFL is expected to make a decision next month. We’ll see if Twitter can retain the rights or if the NFL decides to go with another company.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.