Facebook steps aside from Thursday Night Football rights race

Social media company Facebook has decided against bidding for the NFL American football league’s Thursday Night Football package, according to the Bloomberg news agency.

The NFL issued a request for proposal for the package last month, with the document reportedly outlining that a contract could be awarded exclusively to an online streaming provider for the first time.

The contract will begin with the 2018-19 season and the rights are likely to cover one or two seasons, the report said.

E-commerce and media company Amazon has been a Thursday Night Football partner for the 2017-18 campaign, but has not indicated publicly whether it will bid to retain the rights.

Stepping aside from the sales process for Thursday Night Football does not mean that Facebook is backing off from live sports coverage in general, a source at the company told Bloomberg.

Last week the same news agency reported that US media companies 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney were pursuing the rights package. Fox would show coverage on its network channel and pay-television channel Fox Sports 1, while Disney would feature coverage on the ABC network.