In its first month of streaming live NFL games, the broadcast to the public of Thursday Night Football (TNF) surprised many; surpassing the viewership of a year ago and is the most-watched program of the day. Amazon
With Nielsen measuring Amazon Prime’s TNF viewership (including Twitch viewing, participating teams’ home market broadcast stations, and out-of-home viewing), this allows for comparisons to previous televised TNF games as well as television ratings. Amazon is investing $1 billion a year for the next 11 seasons to broadcast TNF games live. This season, they’re charging advertisers $500,000 for a 30-second ad.
Some industry analysts projected Amazon’s audience Thursday night football the coverage would be well below the guarantee. Adding credence to that expectation, viewership for their single preseason game barely registered a million viewers, well below NFL game viewership on broadcast networks. Therefore, there was some concern about the public delivery ahead of their regular season opener (Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs) on September 15. The inaugural game, however, averaged 13.03 million viewers, with 11.87 million coming from Amazon.
The strong viewership points out that live NFL game standings have become even on a streaming platform. The first TNF game of the year was by far the most watched program of the evening. The highest-rated prime-time television program for the evening was the CBS sitcom Young Sheldon which attracted an average of 3.5 million viewers. Additionally, Amazon’s viewership delivery had surpassed TNF’s first game last season on the NFL Network, home market stations and digital platforms. This game averaged 8.84 million viewers.
The number of new Prime Video signups with the start of Thursday Night Football helped boost ratings. Jay Marine, Vice President of Prime Video at Amazon, said Front Office Sports, the game brought in more new subscriptions to the streaming service than any other three-hour period, including Prime Day, Black Friday or Cyber Monday. A one-year subscription costs $139. Prime Video is estimated to have around 80 million users in the United States
Amazon’s next TNF game aired September 22 (Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns) and averaged 11.03 million viewers across all video sources. Despite the drop, TNF had doubled as the most-watched prime-time show on TV Law and Order: SVU which generated an average audience of 5.5 million. Once again, Amazon’s average viewership was higher than the corresponding TNF games (on the NFL Network, local stations and digital platforms) which averaged 7.96 million viewers.
For Amazon’s third week of coverage (Miami Dolphins to Cincinnati Bengals), the e-commerce giant delivered an audience of 13.4 million viewers across all platforms (11.7 million on Amazon Prime), its most high so far. Once again, TNF was the most watched show of the evening. Additionally, the live-streamed game averaged more viewers than the 2021 TNF game which averaged 8.57 million viewers on the NFL Network, etc.
For Amazon’s fourth TNF game, viewership plummeted. The main reason was a lackluster, error-filled game between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos that dragged into overtime. The game had no touchdowns, twelve punts, four interceptions and ten quarterback sacks. For the game, Amazon Prime averaged 9.7 million viewers, dropping below eleven million for the first time. It was also the first time that Amazon’s viewership was lower than the corresponding TNF game which moved to Fox with an average of 14.8 million viewers. The Amazon game, however, drew more viewers from 18 to 34 than the previous week and was the most-watched program of the evening. He points out that viewers have little tolerance for watching a bad game, whether on TV or live.
Nevertheless, despite the fall, in the first four games, Thursday night football on Amazon averaged 11% more viewers than a year ago.
With younger viewers all but abandoning linear TV for streaming, Amazon’s TNF has provided a strong young adult audience. According SporticoWhile the median age of the primetime linear viewer is aging and often exceeds 60, to date the median age for TNF on Amazon has been 46. Last year, the median age for TNF in the first month of the season was 54. Additionally, TNF’s median age is seven years younger than live NFL games broadcast and cabled this season.
Additionally, Amazon’s TNF also averages a strong audience of adults 18-34. According to Nielsen, more than 20% of games broadcast live are watched by young adults. This age group has wide appeal with many marketers targeting the hard-to-reach 18-34 year olds. It also helps the NFL reach young adults. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall notes, “We think we’re going to be able to help build an audience for Amazon Prime, but Amazon Prime is also going to be able to build an audience for the NFL.”
The NFL is also off to a good start with other media partners. CBS said its NFL ratings got off to their best start since 2010. Additionally, NBC said four of their first five games all averaged more than 20 million viewers, making them their best start since 2015.
Tonight, Amazon kicks off its second month of coverage when Washington COs visit the Chicago Bears.