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NFL-Amazon Partnership Conversation Began at Bill Gates’ Home

“We have to be ahead of that strategy at all times so that we are where our fans are, on the platforms they want to be on.”

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Bill Gates
Courtesy: John Keatley

As the National Football League begins the first season under an 11-year media rights deal worth nearly $112 billion annually, the league is facilitating a new era of game coverage through the increased application of digital technologies. The move was accentuated by Amazon Prime Video’s transaction with the league, which rendered it the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football following years of simulcasting the games. The NFL, however, had been laying the groundwork to assimilate into the space several years earlier, according to a cover story at The Hollywood Reporter written by Alex Werpin.

Werpin describes how Goodell attended a party at the home of Microsoft founder Bill Gates several years ago and confabulated with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. During the conversation, Goodell expressed how the league could help Amazon bolster its advertising business and emerging Prime Video subscription service. Goodell’s pitch intrigued Bezos, who told him that he had his attention.

The year after Amazon began simulcasting the games, ratings slowly improved and have been on the upswing ever since. In its first year with the exclusive rights to the Thursday night property, Amazon reported an average minute audience (AMA) of 11.3 million viewers, combining internal metrics with data from Nielsen Media Research. This season, Nielsen plans to incorporate the Amazon data, drawing the ire of competitors and sacrificing the trust it garners throughout the industry.

The Thursday night venture on Amazon, however, is proving to be an innovative step serving as a template for the rest of the business. With pay television subscribers down to approximately 60.9 million, according to data from nScreen Media, determining the next step in the evolution of live game dissemination is critical. Amazon will broadcast the inaugural Black Friday NFL game, canvassing the power of its broad business portfolio and personalities to ensure profitability.

“The technology is changing, the platforms are changing [and] the economy is changing,” Goodell said. “We have to be ahead of that strategy at all times so that we are where our fans are, on the platforms they want to be on.”

The NFL itself implemented its pay television channels – NFL Network and NFL RedZone – to its own direct-to-consumer offering. NFL+ gives viewers the ability to access these channels without a traditional cable subscription at a price point ranging from $6.99 to $14.99 per month. Werpin notes that the NFL receives more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue from cable fees, but is putting those at risk due to the augmentation of cord cutting.

NFL Sunday Ticket has also moved away from a traditional cable provider, instead being distributed by YouTube in a seven-year, $14 billion deal with Google. While there have been complaints from those who grew accustomed to DIRECTV, the NFL has engaged in several efforts to grow the appeal of the service by equipping YouTube’s deep roster of creators to promote the service on their channels.

“That’s the power of YouTube that the NFL to their credit recognized, especially for young fans all over the country and, frankly, also all over the world,” YouTube Chief Executive Officer Neal Mohan said. “Creators are going to have access to gameday content – you can imagine them producing content that is shoulder content – so not just what’s on the field but behind the scenes.”

Amazon has helped define the streaming landscape and is serving as an impetus for many other companies either established in live sports broadcasting or looking to penetrate the space. The company assuaged the NFL’s fears when it proved it could handle large audiences with its technologies, underscored by minimal reports of disruptions or outages. Traditional networks are exploring the capabilities of the space, with ESPN planning the launch of a direct-to-consumer product down the road and Peacock airing exclusive NFL games.

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‘NFL Total Access’ Comes to an End After 21 Years on NFL Network

“Today is our last show and while our team is disappointed, we are excited about what’s next for us at NFL Network.”

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NFL Total Access

‘NFL Total Access’ has been a part of the NFL Network since 2003 and today it is set for its final episode. The news of the show coming to an end came down earlier this month. Many of the current show participants took to social media to post their thoughts including hosts Mike Yam and Kimmi Chex along with analyst Chase Daniel.

“Tonight marks the last ever episode of NFL Total Access,” said Chex. “I was 7 years old when this show aired meaning that I spent my life watching. Co-hosting our flagship program this past season has been the honor of my career. I’m not going anywhere but for now, it’s goodbye TA.”

Yam said, “It’s been an absolute thrill hosting NFL Total Access. Today is our last show and while our team is disappointed, we are excited about what’s next for us at NFL Network. “Thank you” isn’t nearly enough to express the gratitude I have for the team. See you at 7est for 1 more run.”

A report from The Athletic said the show would be replaced “at least in the interim” by Insiders with Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero.

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NBCUniversal Names Olympic Hosts for USA, CNBC and E!; Kathryn Tappen Headlines

“We are excited to have an experienced group of hosts to present the most compelling stories, news, and interviews as we take viewers from event to event throughout the Games.”

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NBC Olympics Logo and photos of Cara Banks, Laura Britt, Trenni Casey, Lindsay Czarniak, Carolyn Manno, and Kathryn Tappen

NBCUniversal announced its hosts for coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 on USA Network, CNBC and E! Cara Banks, Laura Britt and Trenni Casey will all be a part of the coverage on CNBC and E! Lindsay Czarniak, Carolyn Manno and Kathryn Tappen will all take part in the USA Network coverage.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Paris Olympics is Friday, July 26 on NBC, Peacock, and Telemundo.

Coverage on USA Network, CNBC, and E! is expected to include Team USA men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as swimming, gymnastics, and track & field, and more.

“We are excited to have an experienced group of hosts to present the most compelling stories, news, and interviews as we take viewers from event to event throughout the Games,” said Rebecca Chatman, Vice President and Coordinating Producer, NBC Olympics Production in a release.

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Mike Tirico, Danica Patrick Return to Host Indy 500 for NBC Sports

Seven-time NASCAR Series champion Jimmie Johnson will join NBC’s pre-race and race coverage. When his broadcasting duties are completed, Johnson will be flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600.

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Logos for Indy 500, NBC Sports and photos of Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick
Photos Courtesy: NBC Sports

With less than two weeks until the event, NBC Sports has officially announced its team of race and studio commentators for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500. For the sixth year in a row, we can expect to see familiar faces such as host Mike Tirico and studio analyst Danica Patrick contributing to pre-race, in-race, and post-race coverage.

The race will air at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 26, on both NBC and Peacock.

Seven-time NASCAR Series champion Jimmie Johnson will join NBC’s pre-race and race coverage. When his broadcasting duties are completed, Johnson will be flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600.

Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe will call the race for the sixth consecutive year. Marty Snider, Dillon Welch, Dave Burns, and Kevin Lee will serve as pit reporters. Former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and Kim Coon will serve as roaming reporters.

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