If you watch Thursday Night Football this year, it's very possible that you'll be getting a sneak peak of how the NFL will be airing it's games in the future.
One of the NFL's biggest issues over the past couple years has been trying to figure out how to reach cord-cutting fans. Back in 2015, the league started to experiment with streaming games when they aired a. The league followed that up last season .
For the 2017 season, Amazon, which will also be airing on CBS or NBC plus the NFL Network (You can ).
Streaming or "over the top" viewing of NFL games is something that fans better get used to because that's the future, according to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
"This year we're with Amazon and for us the future is [Over the top]," Kraft said, via the New York Post.
Kraft added that the league will be watching the Amazon streaming experiment closely because, for the first time, the stream will only be available to subscribers. Although fans were able to watch the Yahoo and Twitter streams for free, the Amazon games will only be streamable to customers who subscribe to Amazon Prime.
"We'll be very interested to see how Amazon goes as it's behind the paywall. The thing we have to be careful of is millennials," Kraft said. "They don't watch TV, they don't have TVs or subscribe to cable. So we have to bring that audience in. Partly it's done through fantasy games and linking to that. Over-the-top is a great opportunity."
Of course, if the NFL does change its strategy for airing games, that likely won't happen anytime soon. The league has television deals with CBS, NBC and Fox that all run thru the 2022 season while the NFL's Monday contract with ESPN runs thru the 2021 season.
After that, it will all be up in the air.
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft recently said that he doesn't expect the league to strike a similar deal with networks that it has done in the past.
"When we get to the end of this deal, what has been our traditional television deals I'm sure will change in their form and format," Kraft said in mid-June, via the Boston Globe. "I think the way [games are] distributed and the way you access them, by definition, will be different, and we will definitely evolve with the consumer. And between now and then we'll be doing a lot of experimenting so we know exactly what our consumers want."
The most interesting thing with streaming will be how much the league might charge for it. Right now, the only way to stream every game is to subscribe to DirecTV's Sunday Ticket Max, which will cost roughly $380 for a subscription in 2017.
The NFL offers most of its games for free -- you can watch a regional NFL game for free as long as you have a TV with CBS, Fox or NBC -- which means the league will have to find the balance between offering their product for free while also making money from the companies hoping to show their games.