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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Streaming Is Here To Stay. Amazon Wants To Make It Even Better

  • Second year of exclusive coverage to include expanded game production.
  • Company eyes potential streaming record with Black Friday game.
Charissa Thompson handling Amazon's Thursday Night Football coverage with panel of former NFL players 

When it comes to the second season of “Thursday Night Football” — beginning Thursday with the Minnesota Vikings at the Philadelphia Eagles — Amazon plans to level up how NFL fans follow the league by offering the kind of presentation a traditional linear setting can’t provide.

The NFL games will feature an array of new enhancements for viewers — some powered by artificial intelligence — that represent merely the latest move in the company’s fast-growing sports streaming ambitions. 

Just in the last four months, the company has entered discussions about a potential ESPN equity partnership, signaled an intention to compete for NASCAR rights, acquired a set of pickleball rights, still shows the Premier League domestically, and could even be a significant player in the next round of NBA rights.

But the “TNF” games remain the core of the company’s sports portfolio, and given the unrivaled popularity of the league in the U.S., also serve as the foremost showcase of Amazon’s ability to stream live events at mass scale.

Black Friday Boost?

Amazon averaged an audience of 9.6 million viewers in 2022, per Nielsen — a figure that jumps to 11.3 million when including Amazon’s first-party measurement data. Even though those numbers were down sharply from the prior audience for “TNF” on Fox Sports, there was a silver lining: The median age of 47 for Amazon’s exclusive coverage was eight years younger than the league’s linear average.

After preseason controversy about how Nielsen will count “TNF” audiences, those numbers will also get a sizable boost from the first-ever Black Friday game on Nov. 24 between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, a contest that will be in front of the usual paywall and could turn the day after Thanksgiving into another national football holiday. 

“This is a chance to start a new tradition with the league, and is something we’re thinking big about in every possible way,” Jared Stacy, Amazon Prime Video director of global live sports production, told Front Office Sports. 

The loss of star Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has clouded those aspirations somewhat, but the game is still expected to at least challenge, if not surpass, new audience records for a live streaming event. Amazon is also working to reduce online latency — for years the bane of any live sports streaming — down to 10 seconds or less for “TNF.”

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