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Amazon to pay $50 million for NFL Thursday Night streaming rights

How many of you watched an NFL Thursday Night Football game on Twitter last year? No, how many of you actually watched a game on Twitter last year, beyond simply meandering over for a few plays just to say you did it?

The NFL said up to 3.1 million people watched its 10 Thursday Night games through Twitter last season -- roughly one-sixth of the television audience -- which the NFL sold to the microblogging service for $10 million.

The success of that launched has jacked the price up to the streaming rights of Thursday night games by a whopping 400 percent.

The NFL on Tuesday struck a deal with Amazon to stream its 10-game digital package in 2017 for $50 million, according to Sports Business Journaland The Wall Street Journal.

The games will be available only to Amazon Prime subscribers -- except, of course, they won't. They'll also be broadcast on either CBS or NBC (the two share the package) and on NFL Network. Amazon isn't even the only place on the Internet to watch the games. NBC, CBS and the NFL all have their own respective streaming services, and Verizon customers can also stream games through the provider's online platform.

So it seems unlikely Amazon will generate the roughly half-million Prime subscribers it would need to make up the difference.

Instead, Amazon will get the prestige of being an NFL rights-holder (Amazon already streams the All Or Nothing series, produced by NFL Films) and a win over rivals Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the race to put sports television rights online. (Personally, considering all the money it's throwing around elsewhere, I'm surprised Netflix didn't get in the bidding here.)

And what does the NFL get? The league gains exactly what it gets every single time it asks, from anyone it approaches: a nice, large chunk of cash.