The battle for live streaming supremacy has moved to the gridiron. According to a report from Recode, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and YouTube have all made overtures to the NFL, which is selling the streaming rights for its Thursday Night Football slate.
Whichever tech company ultimately secures the TNF deal will gain access to a slate of games that are aired on major TV networks like CBS and NBC. While the quality of Thursday night play has been widely criticized, there’s no doubt that the games are, like other primetime NFL broadcasts, hugely popular. Last year, Twitter won the TNF streaming rights and immediately saw big returns. Its broadcast of the September 15th tilt between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills drew 2.3 million viewers; meanwhile, on TV, 48 million tuned in.
Recode notes that last year’s winning TNF bid cost Twitter $1 million per game. This time around, will one of the sharks in the water snatch those coveted rights away? The consensus is that Facebook, which is developing “mid-roll” ads for live video and boasts a massive audience, is a strong contender to swoop in, but don’t count out any of the competing tech companies. According to Recode, the NFL will make its decision within the next month.