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Tod Leiweke
NFL COO Tod Leiweke. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Everyone these days wants to be like Amazon, even the NFL apparently.

At the 2017 GeekWire Sports Tech Summit, NFL COO Tod Leiweke addressed Amazon’s deal to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games this season for a reported price of $50 million. Amazon took over for Twitter, which paid a reported $10 million for the same exact package last season.

Leiweke praised Amazon and compared his league to the retail giant’s approach of “customer obsession” when it comes to improving the experience for fans.

“It’s been fun for us to talk to the Amazon guys,” Leiweke said. “They are just amazing at what they do and how they do it, and you talk about breaking trail and changing the world and really thinking about the world in such abstract and different ways, but they are focused as we think we are on the end user.”

Leiweke continued the comparison, saying that both Amazon and the NFL take nothing for granted. The goal is convenience, whether it be how people buy stuff online, or how they watch a football game. Twitter is still part of the NFL’s digital experience, inking a new multi-year deal in May for several programs to be aired through Periscope and Twitter.

Details of Amazon’s NFL broadcast plans are starting to trickle out. The games will only be available for Prime members, giving Amazon another sweetener to convince people to sign up for its fast-shipping program. Reuters today reported that Amazon plans to charge $2.8 million for packages that include 30-second spots during the streamed games, as well as ads on Amazon’s website during football season.

Leiweke, who previously worked for the Seattle Seahawks as the team’s CEO, said Seattle is rapidly becoming the center of technology in sports. Microsoft is one of the NFL’s biggest technology partners, with everyone from players and coaches to officials using Surface tablets to instantaneously rehash plays.

Leiweke also shouted out Vicis, the Seattle startup that makes a high-tech football helmet designed to mitigate the forces thought to cause concussions. Vicis has shipped its helmet to nearly every NFL team, and 12 have officially placed orders for more.

“All of that is happening here in Seattle,” Leiweke said during an interview at the event with longtime NFL beat reporter John Clayton. “Seattle is a truly amazing place in sports, not just renowned for its fans, but also renowned for a lot of the technology coming out of here on a whole wide variety of fronts.”

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