Amazon-owned Twitch to stream Thursday NFL games this season

Thursday Night Football will debut for free on Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch beginning with this week's matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams, the company announced Thursday.

The move to Twitch is a part of Amazon's renewal of its two-year, $130 million broadcasting deal with the NFL for the 2018 and 2019 seasons of Thursday Night Football, which is also broadcast on Fox's linear network.

Twitch will broadcast 11 of the 12 remaining Thursday Night Football regular-season games, marking the first time viewers will be allowed to watch as many NFL games in a single season online for free without a subscription. Twitch did not specify which games it will livestream. Twitch is accessible across 200 countries and territories around the world. (Twitch was blocked in China last week, and its iOS app was removed from the Chinese Apple Store.)

As part of the deal, Twitch will launch co-streaming with longtime livestreamer Brennon "GoldGlove" O'Neill, who will provide analysis for the game rather than Fox's commentators. Twitch will also launch emotes of the 32 NFL team logos, as well as some generic football ones, to be used in its live chat across its website.

Amazon acquired Twitch in August 2014 for $970 million -- a record-breaking deal for a livestreaming platform in esports and gaming. It has led the way as mainstream media companies have tried to push into the internet streaming space over the past few years. The acquisition has also resulted in a number of collaborative efforts between Twitch and Amazon Prime.

In January, Twitch surpassed CNN and MSNBC by having approximately 962,000 average viewers at any given time, according to Macquarie Capital analyst Ben Schachter. According to 2017 total day viewership, that leaves it behind Fox News and ESPN, who averaged around 1.5 million concurrent viewers throughout the day, according to Schachter.