What Amazon’s NFL success means for the Pac-12
After all the dust has settled, we now know that Amazon was able bring in a large audience for last Thursday’s Chiefs/Chargers match.
According to Nielsen, who is responsible for tracking the audience data, the game averaged about 13 million views during its live stream. The game had a lot of viewers. Amazon also reported record numbers of Prime signups during the three-hour period. This was in addition to the new subscribers added on Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
This is significant news for the Pac-12, a conference who is currently in limbo and trying to figure out which media rights deal is the best for them. As more comes out such as the reports that I talked about last week, ESPN is missing the Pac-12’s desired offer mark by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Something that 247Sports’ Jason Scheer, reported back in July, when he explained the amount of money initially offered by ESPN per school was $24.5 million. A mark that the Pac-12 wants to be much higher as according to Front Office Sports, they are hoping for a deal that would allow it to increase its per-school payout, which was nearly $33 million in 2020.
Now there are plenty of reasons that ESPN is “low-balling” the Pac-12, and when you think about the struggles the conference has had it’s not even a case of being low-balled. Larry Scott’s tenure was nothing but a disaster in terms creating revenue opportunities and ensuring happiness at every school. This could have prevented UCLA and USC from leaving. The conference isn’t able to sell its marquee brand without USC. They do offer one thing: they play in the later times slots.
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This puts a lot of pressure on Washington, Utah, and even Oregon to succeed this season because they need to show the conference still has value despite USC’s departure. Yes, USC hasn’t accomplished much recently but they similar to Texas leaving the Big 12 are viewed as a major brand being lost.
So, back to the Amazon success and what it does for the Pac-12. There is clearly viewership potential considering how many people subscribed last week, and in total as Amazon has over 200 million subscribers. However, it is hard to compare two of the NFL’s premier teams playing the only Thursday night game, to what will end up being Olympic sports and 36 football games of Pac-12 play. There is just no way that the Pac-12 will generate the viewership the NFL did last week, but Amazon would most likely be banking on more Pac-12 fans to subscribe in order to have easier access to Pac-12 games.
Something that cannot be said about the Pac-12 Networks, and appears to be one of George Kliavkoff‘s main focuses in negotiating. He expressed to John Canzano and Jon Wilner in a podcast interview a couple days ago:
“Certainly revenue is at the top of the priority list but we have to also balance that against distribution,” Kliavkoff said. “We want our content to be accessible to all our fans who wish to see it. I’ve set a goal that our content should be available to any piece of glass connected to the internet as part of our next media rights negotiation.”
Getting a deal with Amazon would almost certainly have a ton of value for the conference, and would also guarantee accessibility for the Pac-12’s fans. Whether it ends up being with Amazon or even Apple who has been streaming a ton of sports, the Pac-12 needs all of their games to be somewhere where fans are. That could even mean a deal with ESPN circles around, and we see ESPN buying all the Pac-12 Networks content for ESPN . Regardless, Amazon’s success last week provided a couple positives for the Pac-12. There is a market for games on Amazon. Amazon values how many subscribers they have compared to the views.
So, if Amazon feels that adding the Pac-12 will bring in more subscribers, they may very well fell confident enough to give the Pac-12 the money they desire.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.