DirecTV close to agreement with Amazon over Thursday football rights

(Logo courtesy DirecTV/Graphic designed by The Desk)

Satellite broadcaster DirecTV is nearing a deal that would bring Thursday Night Football to its commercial service for bars, restaurants and other public spaces.

The rights to the National Football League’s Thursday evening telecasts are held exclusively by Amazon for its Prime Video service — the first time a weekly football event has been exclusive to a streaming video platform — but that doesn’t work for the hundreds of bars and restaurants who screen football games as part of their business.

Commercial operators have raised concerns that streaming football games is not practical because of latency and other issues involving broadband Internet in public spaces. For this reason, a partnership between Amazon and DirecTV makes a lot of sense, since DirecTV doesn’t require an Internet connection in order to view video.

It wasn’t clear how much DirecTV would pay Amazon or the NFL for commercial broadcast rights to the Thursday night games or if the partnership would involve some other kind of agreement. The Sports Business Journal first reported on the potential for a deal on Monday.

DirecTV is expected to give up the rights to its lucrative NFL Sunday Ticket package at the end of the upcoming football season. The package allowed the satellite broadcaster to offer out-of-market games aired Sunday mornings and afternoons on CBS and Fox stations across the country. It retailed for between $200 and $300 a season, though the satellite company often gave it to new customers for free for at least one year.

But DirecTV has not fully abandoned its interest in Sunday Ticket: As with the Thursday night games, it could emerge as a provider to commercial establishments if the Sunday Ticket winds up going to one or more streaming services. Google, Apple and Disney have all expressed interest in grabbing the rights to Sunday Ticket for their own streaming endeavors, and it’s possible a partnership between DirecTV and any streamer that gets the Sunday Ticket could take the same form as the one it is trying to hammer out with Amazon.

DirecTV was spun off from AT&T last year. The new company is jointly owned between AT&T and TPG Capital, a private equity firm.

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