Amazon is doubling down on its entry into the sports broadcasting world. After sporadic live events over the last few years, the online retailer and streaming giant struck a deal to gain exclusive rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football starting in 2022. This could be a significant step toward sports embracing the streaming world. Jeff Bezos and company are thinking big, considering beloved NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
Amazon buys into the NFL
In early May, the NFL reported its new deal, which involves Amazon streaming its Thursday Night Football games on Amazon. While far from the first digital streaming deal, the move marks the most high-profile addition to the digital sports broadcasting world. After all, with more fans relying on smart devices, they don’t necessarily have network options like others.
Starting in 2022, Thursday Night games will stream across Amazon’s apps, websites, and devices. However, the most intriguing aspect of their new plan has less to do with bringing television to the internet age and more to do with how they take advantage of the internet’s capabilities not only when it comes to showing video but allowing for quick access to other information that isn’t possible on a standard television broadcast.
“With its new media distribution agreements, the NFL has expanded its digital footprint to reach a broader audience and enhanced the ability of its media partners to innovate around their productions and provide interactive elements such as stats/data, chat, and integrated social feeds as part of their digital presentations,” they wrote on NFL.com.
Still, sports broadcasting is not an easy science. Yes, the presentation and the access to stats and information help, but broadcasters remain the biggest sell to date, and Amazon hopes to bring in a whale to help anchor in their new era in sports.
In pursuit of Peyton Manning
Amazon doesn’t want to be an outlier. They want to be every bit as legitimate as Fox, NBC, CBS, and ESPN/ABC. As such, they are in hot pursuit of established football broadcasting legends hoping that it will lend to its legitimacy. The New York Post notes how Amazon reached out to legendary broadcaster Al Michaels and Ian Eagle for commentary. However, when it comes to analysis, they hope to bring in one of the most sought-after names in the industry: Peyton Manning.
Manning is no stranger to television. After all, he hosted SNL and appeared in hundreds of commercials when he played. In retirement, he’s constantly putting in work at ESPN for new content. Manning is a regular at games, but he shies away from actual analysis. From speculation that he didn’t want to call his now-retired brother and ex-teammates to the possibility that in-game commentary doesn’t interest him, Manning isn’t ready to take the plunge.
As such, the New York Post reports that Amazon is willing to pay something akin to Tony Romo’s ten-year, $180 million at CBS to entice the two-time Super Bowl winner into the booth.
Manning is a staple on ESPN’s streaming platform. He provides tape analysis on Detail and hosts the popular football-themed docu-series Peyton’s Places. However, if this is where Manning’s passion lies, it may be hard to entice him toward a more hands-on role for broadcasts. If the former QB wants to expand his brand, however, a nine-figure deal like Romo’s could go a long way.
Time will tell if Manning takes Bezos up on the offer. But the entire saga shows the former Bronco’s demand as well as the lengths studios are willing to go to secure such a promising prospect.