Starting with this week’s game between the Chiefs and Chargers, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) will integrate DraftKings odds and analysis into pregame shows and live in-game action. The sportsbook (Nasdaq: DKNG) will also create Thursday Night Football-themed wagers.
The deal, signed Monday, also provides opportunities for the two companies to deepen the relationship with new collaborations, such as an alternate betting stream, if both sides want to explore those options in the future, according to someone familiar with the terms. A DraftKings representative declined to comment on contract specifics; a representative for Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The partnership is just the latest example of the rapid blending of sports media and sports betting. A few years ago, it was virtually unheard of for telecasts to directly address the odds of a game. Announcers like Al Michaels, now Amazon’s play-by-play voice, might occasionally make veiled references to the importance of specific plays to “some fans.” Now it’s commonplace, and networks sell exclusive rights to provide those odds much like they do presenting sponsorships to any other broadcast enhancement.
Sportsbooks across the country, DraftKings included, are grappling with the soaring costs to acquire—and retain—new customers. In response, many are shifting money from pricey promotions, TV commercials and celebrity endorsements into endemic content marketing—like this DraftKings-Amazon deal—where the product is woven directly into the broadcast, as opposed to a paid ad during breaks.
It’s also becoming more financially feasible to run national ads. Some NFL fans will obviously see the DraftKings mentions in states where they’re not legally allowed to use DraftKings, but those numbers are much smaller than they were two years ago. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins has spoken in the past about a 33% threshold, where the company would begin shifting to national advertising, which is cheaper, once about 33% of the country could legally use the DraftKings sportsbook product. It crossed that threshold earlier this year when it launched in New York, bringing the total to 18 states.
This is the first year that Amazon has exclusive rights to the NFL’s Thursday night package, and the first time NFL has given a sizeable chunk of games to a streaming partner without those games also being available on linear TV. The company is paying roughly $1 billion per year for the rights.