It’s a crisp Sunday in October, and a bunch of old friends are on their way to your place to watch the late-afternoon NFL game. Everyone’s expecting a feast, but first there must be a little trash about the score you’re running up in fantasy.
“Alexa,” you say loudly enough to get the she-speaker up and running. “Show me all of Baker Mayfield’s scoring plays, then, place an order the party platter of Asian Style Chicken Wings and two cases of Four in Hand IPA.”
You see Mayfield has thrown four TD passes and has 453 yards on the day, clinching a victory over one of your boys who’s about to walk in the door. You set up a highlight reel of Baker’s bombs and queue up the smart speaker once more.
“Alexa, order a picture of Baker Mayfield and send it to George,” you say.
“Will that be 4-by-6 or 8-by-11?” Alexa asks.
“Let’s go big, Alexa … and are the wings and beer on the way from Whole Foods?”
“Indeed,” Alexa answers, dutifully.
This is the go-big world the NFL and Amazon imagine if the two behemoths partner to stream the Sunday Ticket. As the NFL negotiates its next set of media contracts, the news is that Amazon is bidding to acquire the popular Sunday Ticket. With that, the imagination of the NFL in an Amazon World seems limitless.
What can Prime do for you?
Have you ever lamented the offerings of organic chicken wings and high-end beer at your neighborhood grocery store?
Amazon last year increased the price of its Prime annual membership from $99 to $119.
The company could use the other parts of its Prime service to make watching football even more enjoyable. Not only would Sunday Ticket be available on an easy-to-use streaming platform, but perhaps fans could take advantage of Amazon’s armada of other endeavors while watching football.
Have you ever lamented the offerings of organic chicken wings and high-end beer at your neighborhood grocery store? Then look out for Whole Foods, purchased by Amazon in the fall of 2017, to be your online purveyor of football snacking food. Whole Foods could be roped in to provide instantaneous gratification to hungry fans through the delivery service.
Prime members already get a discount from the premium grocer, and the company is rolling out grocery delivery across the country.
Better yet, think about the possibilities of your instantaneous reaction to the game being funneled into spur-of-the-moment purchases. That undrafted quarterback you never thought would work out — Nick Mullens sound familiar? — scores the game-winning touchdown? Buy his jersey right then and there and don’t look back.
It’ll be outside your front door in 48 hours or less.
Can you hear the Echo over there?
Don’t forget about Alexa, the voice-activated mini speaker that can make magic in your home. A discount on the little surveillance machines from Amazon is unlikely, but the ability to speak to your TV and tell it what NFL team you want to be watching isn’t available really anywhere else.
Maybe you have Mayfield on your fantasy team. Tell Alexa, “show me Baker,” and Amazon can probably make it happen if they were to land Sunday Ticket.
Or better yet, if you don’t have the attention span — or enough screens at home — to catch every one of your fantasy players live in action even with Sunday Ticket, feel free to ask Alexa what’s going on around the NFL.
“Hey Alexa, how did Odell do today?”
“Sorry, one of those days. He’s not loving Cleveland. Anything else I can help you with?”
When the second screen becomes the first screen
Amazon Web Service could be the most important ingredient in this whole endeavor from the perspective of viewing experience.
Though Amazon and Netflix are competitors for our eyeballs in the streaming business, Netflix pays Amazon what we can only assume is a heavy check for its web services. This is key to understanding the scope of what Amazon could do for NFL viewership.
Through their big new fortress in Inglewood and an increasing streaming presence, NFL Media clearly wants to grow. The league’s “Next Gen Stats” are powered by AWS machine learning and artificial intelligence technology.
If Amazon became the home for Sunday Ticket streaming, it would open the door for more innovative uses of highlights and game film. Clip and send the next Patrick Mahomes bomb to your neighbor who thought he was a waste of the No. 13 pick. See in real-time the likelihood of D.K. Metcalf catching a Russell Wilson sideline heave. Send your girlfriend the snapshot of Kliff Kingsbury on the Cardinals’ sideline she’s been asking you for (also make sure you’re rocking some abs like Kingsbury).
Instead of competing with cell phones and tablets for our attention, Amazon could take advantage of its presence on those devices and combine what we usually see live on TV with what pops up on the smaller screen.
The Los Angeles Clippers are already tinkering with a product called CourtVision that shows probabilities and tracking simulations instantaneously on-screen, and ESPN has done the same for their NBA broadcasts. Amazon could take it to another level.
(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
For the degenerates in the back
Gambling is growing and increasingly happens online. We don’t need bookies knocking suspiciously on doors anymore — just log in and start spending.
The technology Amazon uses to support online business — AI, machine learning, predictive technology — certainly would help you avoid a bad beat. Of course these will not be made available to just anyone who asks nicely, but for those sending in a yearly payment for Sunday Ticket? It would be good business to help make gambling a bigger part of the viewing experience since Amazon uniquely is capable of doing so.
It may be kind of awkward to let Alexa in on your Chiefs-Ravens parlay, but let her help you. Trust her. This is going to be fun.
More coverage of your favorite team
CEO Jeff Bezos has seemingly avoided meddling in the affairs of the Washington Post, which he purchased in 2013.
HOWEVER, pardon us if we get a little giddy about the prospect of an ESPN NFL Nation-like army of reporters descending upon every team by way of the Post. Or, at the very least, some additional legitimate reporting on these teams as the league continues to grow and generate controversy and intrigue like none other.
ESPN certainly built its business with the NFL as a core product, tossing us highlights, analysis and an endless stream of reporting all day, every day. Could the Post do something similar if Amazon took Sunday Ticket?
The brands you never knew Amazon owned
While Whole Foods, the Washington Post and Amazon’s core e-commerce business get the most attention, Bezos has smartly invested Amazon’s money in a diverse set of companies over the years. Some would provide further money-makers in the event Amazon really got into bed with the NFL.
If you want a discount shirsey, it might be easier and cheaper to go through Zappos if Amazon is streaming games to your TV every weekend.
Take Zappos, which doesn’t jump off the page as a brand that would distribute licensed NFL apparel. Amazon has taught us that one business can morph into another in an instant — remember when they just sold books on the internet? If you want a discount shirsey, it might be easier and cheaper to go through Zappos if Amazon is streaming games to your TV every weekend.
That undrafted quarterback who won your team the game on Sunday might have some stuff on Zappos you can’t wait to get your hands on. None of us have ever heard of half the brands we find on Amazon, so while Zappos may seem like a longshot to overtake Fanatics or 47 Brand to help you show pride in your gridiron favorites, don’t let it catch you off guard when a big, ol’ letter Z sits on the back of your favorite team hoodie.
More obvious than jerseys or socks is additional content. Fans going in on Amazon to get more NFL games would love it if came with accompanying content about their favorite teams and players. The solid All or Nothing series documenting the 2017 Arizona Cardinals season can act as a template. We might never get anything as good as Hard Knocks over on HBO, but we can dream, right?
Twitch has the chance to blow the top off this whole thing for Amazon and football fans. Many young fans already spend a lot of time watching esports streams on the video platform. If Amazon partnered with the league for team- or player-focused content to put on Twitch, live or otherwise, it would attract younger people and simply add to the value of the Sunday Ticket subscriber’s purchase.
You want a look inside the war room on draft night? Amazon’s ability to use Twitch to take us into those spaces live would be fascinating. Hell, we might even get to see Pete Carroll shirtless even faster (and at a higher resolution!) than we could before.
Opening the floodgates
Don’t think simply about what fans might get for the initial subscription fee for Sunday Ticket should Amazon take over the service. It’s bigger than that. Amazon and the NFL have circled one another for years. If the company decides to take the plunge into football, Sunday Ticket would simply be the first toe into the ocean.
Of course, the biggest factor guiding us toward a potential partnership is Amazon’s ability to offer the most cash. Last month, NBC News reported, “At the end of the day, one of the sources said, the NFL will probably go with ‘whoever writes the biggest check.’”
Amazon notably hit a $1 trillion valuation last September and though its stock price per share has fallen $181 since then, it can surely fork over more money than Disney, which has an estimated $150 billion in value.
That also means the service could become cheaper under Amazon’s dominion. It is listed at $293 on DirecTV’s website, or more than double what Prime costs now.
We know Amazon can pay and we know the NFL is listening. The only question is what comes next. The answer to that question could show a more sweeping departure from what any other Sunday Ticket suitors can offer fans, and the largest leap into the unwieldy world of technology the NFL has taken to make its on-field product available to fans.
‘Alexa, play the NFL’