US media company 21st Century Fox is poised to enhance its American football coverage by acquiring rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package, according to multiple reports.
The Bloomberg news agency said Fox, which already holds rights to the league’s Sunday games, is close to a deal for Thursday Night Football, the television rights to which are currently held by the CBS and NBC networks.
Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, said Fox submitted a bid that’s higher than the $45m (€36.8m) per game CBS and NBC agreed to pay for the rights for the 2017 season.
The NFL issued a request for proposal concerning its Thursday Night Football rights package last month, with the document reportedly outlining that a contract could be solely sealed by an online streaming provider for the first time.
The RFP was issued before Christmas, with the NFL seeking responses for a contract that would take effect from the 2018 season. The 2017 season has seen e-commerce and media company Amazon become a Thursday Night Football partner for the first time.
The Amazon Prime service has served as the NFL’s exclusive partner to deliver a live OTT digital stream of Thursday Night Football to a global audience across devices during the 2017 season.
Amazon Prime Video has streamed the 10 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by NBC and CBS, which were also simulcast on NFL Network, once again securing the league's tri-cast model of broadcast (NBC/CBS), cable (NFL Network), and digital (Amazon Prime Video) distribution.
Bloomberg added that Fox’s interest in Thursday Night Football points to its future strategic direction amid its major deal with rival media company Walt Disney, adding that it will be a display of its ambition in the sports rights market.
Disney last month sealed a $52.4bn (€43.78bn) deal to acquire a significant share of Fox’s business interests, but this pact excludes the Fox network and Fox Sports 1 in the US.