Amazon made history as the first all-digital streamer to acquire exclusive rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football, and now the NFL has announced that Amazon will be streaming games sooner than expected — starting with the 2022 season.
The NFL’s previous announcement set the start of Amazon’s exclusivity in 2023. Now Amazon gets its exclusive rights even sooner and for even longer thanks to a new 11-year contract matching the NFL’s other partners, including CBS, NBC (and Peacock), and Fox. That means 2021 will mark the final season with Fox broadcasting Thursday Night Football.
One important note: Amazon’s exclusivity doesn’t extend to local markets. You should still be able to watch Thursday Night Football on an over-the-air broadcast if your team is playing, according to CNBC.
Amazon’s history hosting Thursday Night Football actually began in 2017, when it handled the digital streaming of games while NBC and CBS handled the OTA broadcasts. Later OTA broadcasts were handled by Fox.
The online retail giant also gained exclusive access to some Saturday games in 2020. Before that, Amazon was reportedly considering buying multiple Fox sports channels outright as a way to aggressively get into sports. Amazon’s current offerings aren’t anything to sneeze at, but it’s not hard to imagine a future where Amazon streams an even bigger NFL event, like say, the Super Bowl.
Now if you want to watch a Thursday Night Football game and it doesn’t involve the team in your broadcast region, then watching via Amazon is the only way to go. While that may be annoying for those who don’t have a Prime account, it will probably still be better than dropping $50 for NFL Game Pass, which is subject to brutal blackout periods that can often make it feel like a waste of a subscription.