It’s hard to break up with the cable company. No matter how terrible their service or how many times they promise to make repairs on a Saturday but don’t even text when they’re going to be late, you keep coming back to them. One of the biggest reasons? It’s damn hard to stream sports. Netflix, Amazon, and the like may feature most of your favorite shows, but it’s borderline impossible to cable-free way to watch sports that doesn’t involve a local dive bar or an illegal European site that streams staticky telecasts of Monday Night Football. This all may change, however, thanks to a new deal between Amazon and the NFL.
On Tuesday, the NFL announced that Amazon has purchased the rights to stream 10 Thursday night games of the upcoming season via their Prime streaming service. The rights cost Amazon a cool $50 million, which was a significant jump over the $10 million paid by Twitter last year. But given Amazon’s recent success with streaming, and the fact that nearly half of American households are estimated to have access to Prime, this feels like a more natural fit. Now they just need to hope Thursday night games stop being so f-cking unwatchable. But as Richard Sherman explained, that’s probably not going to happen.
It’s unlikely that this deal will mean all major sporting events will suddenly be streaming. It does, however, show that sports leagues are acknowledging the changing landscape, even if it is happening at a glacial pace. ESPN is already facing the repercussions, as their subscription numbers plummet while the cost of broadcasting games skyrockets. The massive popularity of sports in America has shielded them from many of the changes in the media landscape, but it was only a matter of time before they started feeling the hurt. And as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have all expressed interest in streaming games as well, the world of sports seems ready to enter the streaming age.
Plus, Cable companies are run with a potent combination of malice and incompetence, which is why Americans are eager to stop paying absurdly high rates to deal with businesses that openly do not care about customer satisfaction. For now, die-hard sports fans can’t fully rely on streaming to get their fill of gameday action, but, at least for one night, it’s a viable option. And that could be the first step on the road to breaking up with cable once and for all.