Thursday night’s game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs kicks off Amazon Prime Video’s 11-year agreement with the NFL to carry “Thursday Night Football”.
Here’s what we know about the easiest way to find the games each week as well as why the NFL is entering the streaming universe:
HOW DO I FIND THE NFL GAMES BEING STREAMED BY AMAZON?
The main complaint after Prime Video aired a Saturday afternoon game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals in 2020 was that hardly anyone knew how to access it. Both the NFL and Amazon have tried to solve that with an aggressive promotional campaign.
For most viewers, the Prime Video app on televisions, phones and tablets or Amazon.com on computers will be their way to see it. Games will be available on stations in the markets of the participating teams, which is the same policy for games carried on ESPN and NFL Network.
Bars, restaurants and hotels will also be able to access the games through a deal with DirecTV.
WHY DID THE NFL SELL A STREAMING PACKAGE?
The $1.2 billion per year the NFL is getting from Amazon for 15 Thursday night games is 80% more than it was receiving from Fox, which carried most of the Thursday night matchups for four seasons. Fox, NBC and CBS had all carried games on Thursday night since 2014, but for the most part were losing money.
Since it is a short turnaround, the most times a team will play on Thursday night is twice, and that is usually because they were involved in the Week 1 Kickoff Game or Thanksgiving. That often makes finding appealing matchups difficult, especially when there are two other prime-time packages to schedule.
The league though does see streaming as another transition in how games are viewed, much as it was with cable in the 1980s and satellite television in the 1990s.
“Over the last five years we have started the migration to streaming. This is another large step in this direction,” said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, chairman of the league’s media committee, when the deal was announced last year. “Our fans want this option and understand streaming is the future. We have created a unique hybrid of viewing options and streaming. This should provide a smooth transition to the future of content distribution.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon has told media buyers it is estimating an average audience of 12.6 million viewers. That would be down from the 16.4 million average for last year’s games on Fox and NFL Network, but understandable since this is a significant change in viewing habits.
According to Amazon, 80 million households used Prime Video in the past year.
HOW WILL AUDIENCES BE MEASURED?
Amazon has signed a three-year agreement with Nielsen last month to track ratings. It will be the first time Nielsen will track and include ratings from a streaming service. It is a big step for both parties, especially Nielsen which has often been criticized for not accurately or consistently tracking streaming data.
WILL PRIME VIDEO HAVE ALTERNATE STREAMS?
YouTube personalities Dude Perfect will anchor one feed, while Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer — who did games on Prime Video the past four seasons — will have their own program for two games.