Amazon Adds Programs to ‘Thursday Night Football’ Prime Video Streams

Amazon Oct. 5 announced a slate of new features and original programming for its exclusive live streaming access to NFL “Thursday Night Football” (TNF) on Prime Video and Twitch, which begins Oct. 8 featuring Tom Brady and the new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the Chicago Bears in the Windy City.

“We know these are unusual times, and have developed a wall-to-wall lineup of exclusive features and original content from across Amazon that prioritizes real-time data and insights, provides expert analysis, and gives fanatic and casual football to more options,” Marie Donoghue, VP of Global Sports Video at Amazon, said in a statement.

Prime Video is once again producing multiple announcer options in addition to the longtime default Fox broadcast duo of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer return for their third season on Prime Video, and new this year Prime members can stream “Scout’s Feed,” which features podcasters and former NFL scouts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah alongside sports podcast, radio, and TV host Joy Taylor. Prime members in the U.S. and Mexico will once again have access to the Fox Deportes Spanish-language broadcast.

On the heels of a successful first season, “NFL Next” returns with two-time Super Bowl Champion Chris Long, NFL Network’s Kay Adams, and Next Gen Stats analyst James Koh. New this year, former NFL receiver and Academy Award winner Andrew Hawkins joins the show as a co-host, providing a unique perspective on the NFL.

“NFL Next” is also shifting from a live pre-game show on Thursdays to a live and on-demand release on Tuesday evenings at 8p.m. ET. In addition to compelling moments, stats and stories from the prior weekend’s games; the show aims to amplify the social media pulse of the league, provide a fantasy football-themed look ahead to the upcoming week’s action; and give an in-depth preview of the upcoming weeks’ “Thursday Night” matchup via NFL Films’ “mic’d up” vault. “NFL Next” returns Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. E.T. on Prime Video.

Andrew Hawkins will also join Cari Champion for a new weekly “TNF” livestream that will air exclusively on Twitch every Thursday, with either Chris Long or Von Miller joining weekly throughout the season. Beginning Oct. 8, the “NFL Next Live” stream will give fans a broadcast that marries Amazon’s suite of sports offerings, including Next Gen Stats, Twitch, and Prime Video with a traditional NFL broadcast.

X-Ray for “TNF” gives Prime members real-time access to live stats and key insights, allowing fans to watch and understand the game without taking their eyes off the screen or missing a play. With Next Gen Stats, fans on Prime Video have access to data previously only available to coaches and announcers. New this season to X-Ray is an interactive in-game on-demand replay experience, which allows fans to re-watch top plays from throughout the game in real-time, giving them deeper analysis and insights derived from in-game team and player performance data.

This new feature gives streamers more information about the key players involved in that play, including time to throw, running speeds, and completion probability, as well as trivia, which provides interesting facts or relevant milestones for that play.

In-game on-demand replays with X-Ray will be available on all Fire TV, Android, and iOS devices, and will launch on Web browsers later this season. X-Ray is available for football fans streaming “TNF” on web, Android, iOS, and Fire TV.

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Also new this season, in collaboration with NFL Films, Prime Video is producing a lineup of original content available exclusively on Twitch, which will air throughout the week leading up to the game each Thursday. On Mondays at 2 p.m. ET, Kyle Long and Andrew Hawkins will host “The NFL Comment Box,” giving streamers the chance to engage with Long and Hawkins. On Wednesdays at 6 p.m. ET, fans can join Kyle Long and Chad Johnson on “The NFL Machine,” giving streamers access to the NFL Films archive and allows hosts to walk through footage in the most live and interactive manner possible.

To round out a week of programming on Twitch, on Thursdays fans will be able to watch a live simulcast of the “Scout’s Feed,” as well as an “NFL Next Live” broadcast co-joined by either Chris Long or Von Miller.

Amazon Prime Video’s NFL Deal Ends; League Coy on Successor

Amazon Prime Video has streamed NFL Thursday Night Football for the past two seasons. Whether that groundbreaking deal is renewed remains up in the air, according to media reports.

Prime Video, unlike Netflix or Hulu, has embraced live sports recently signing exclusive rights to English Premier League soccer. The New York Yankees reportedly are in discussions with Amazon to become the first MLB team to stream games directly to viewers who don’t have a pay-TV subscription.

The NFL is concerned whether Amazon can handle the capacity required to stream games to millions of viewers simultaneously — an interesting concern considering ESPN’s challenges streaming the Clemson, LSU college football national championship game on Jan. 13.

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“What Amazon’s doing over the next few weeks in the U.K. with their Premier League package will be very interesting to watch,” Brian Rolapp, EVP of media with the NFL, told a confab last month, as reported by Sports Business Daily. “They’re getting some pretty high ‘concurrents’ there.”

Rolapp said the NFL doubted any streaming service had the capacity to handle 25 million people simultaneously streaming a single game, much less in high-definition.

“It’s not just technical capacity the league is looking for. Production and promotion are just as important, he said. “In order to hold an NFL package, you’re … going to have to be able to distribute it at a high level of quality — no fan is going to accept less than HD, high-res all the time. You’re going to have to sell it from an advertising standpoint and market it. So we need to see that from any partner, and be satisfied with that before we entrust any game package to them.”

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Regardless, it’s likely money will play as important consideration going forward. Both DAZN and YouTube TV have expressed interest in football, with the latter a sponsor and distributor of Major League Baseball post-season games and World Series.

DAZN, of course, inked an exclusive deal with Mexican fighter Canelo Alvarez worth a reported $365 million.

Rolapp told the confab the NFL remains primarily interested in reaching viewers and fans across multiple distribution channels.

“We will not sacrifice reach for something less valuable, including a higher rights fee,” he said. “We will maximize our reach. We think we can get both, but the reach is really important.”

 

Amazon Prime Video Expands Live Sports Programming

Amazon Prime Video, unlike Netflix and Hulu, is not afraid of live sports programming costs. The SVOD service live-streams NFL football and Major League Baseball games (New York Yankees) in the United States.

Now Prime Video has acquired rights to select UEFA Champions League soccer matches in Germany. The Champions League is an annual competition pitting professional clubs across Europe to determine the top team.

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Prime Video, beginning in 2021, will live-stream a selection 0f “first-pick” 16 matches. The Champions League rights are currently held by Comcast’s Sky Deutschland, which reportedly subcontracts streaming rights to DAZN, the boxing-centric platform.

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“We’re excited to bring UEFA Champions League football to our customers in Germany,” Alex Green, managing director, Prime Video Sport Europe, said in a statement. “The UEFA Champions League is one of the most prestigious club competitions in the world.”

Amazon Injecting Tech into NFL Thursday Night Football

Amazon Prime Video for the third year will stream NFL Thursday Night Football, beginning Sept. 26 at 8:20 PM Eastern with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Philadelphia Eagles

This season Amazon will again feature three viewing options, including the default Fox broadcast with Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, sports journalists Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer providing commentary on a second feed, in addition to U.K. English language broadcasters Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth.

Amazon is also offering “X-Ray for TNF,” software that enables users to watch and understand the game without taking their eyes off the screen or missing a play.

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“X-Ray” brings statistics previously available only to coaches and announcers to all Prime Video users on demand, on every play.

Users can gain insights such as a quarterback’s average time to throw, a running back’s average yards after contact and a wide receiver’s average yards of separation, which are enabled through Next Gen Stats’ real-time player tracking.

The software is available to anyone streaming TNF on Android, iOS, and Fire TV. To access X-Ray, users simply flip their phones, tap the “Stats by X-Ray” button on their phone or tablet or click ‘up’ on the Fire TV remote control during the game.

In addition, Amazon is streaming “NFL Next,” a new 30-minute live show available exclusively on Prime Video at 7:00 PM Eastern each Thursday and produced by NFL Films.

The show provides insight and commentary from two-time Super Bowl Champion Chris Long, NFL Network’s Kay Adams and Next Gen Stats expert James Koh.

“We’re revolutionizing the way football fans stream Thursday Night Football and allowing Prime members to personalize how they watch and hear the game,” Marie Donoghue, VP of Prime Video Sports, said in a statement. “We think both longtime sports fans and those new to the game will love watching and engaging with TNF on Prime Video and Twitch.”

“We’re excited to collaborate once again with Amazon Prime Video to produce a different kind of NFL show,” said Ross Ketover, Chief Executive of NFL Films. “To have the talents of Chris Long, one of the most insightful players to play this game, paired with a dynamic personality like Kay Adams makes for a show we think fans are going to love.”

For the third year, TNF will also be available on Amazon-owned gaming platform Twitch, including co-streamed commentary on Twitch’s interactive social video service.

 

Amazon ‘Thursday Night Football’ – Spanish, British English and Women

Lost in the all-day Congressional spectacle involving U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was the first NFL regular season TV broadcast ever exclusively called by women.

Veteran sports reporters Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm called the Sept. 27 “Thursday Night Football” featuring the Los Angeles Rams’ 38-31 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Amazon Prime Video – the first of 11 games the e-commerce behemoth will stream (and Kremer & Storm will call) this season.

To the casual viewer – on Prime Video – watching the women make history was as challenging as listening to the pair try and keep up with the live game video.

With Fox Sports having exclusive TV broadcast rights to “Thursday Night Football,” Prime viewers were by default linked to the broadcast called by veterans commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.

It took a Tweet on social media by Storm to inform anyone who cared that to access her (and Kremer’s) webcast required going into the “audio & language” setting and clicking on the “Kremer & Storm” link. Other options include Spanish and English U.K.

Doing so displayed the live video feed with Kremer & Storm calling plays and offering analysis, respectively. The duo appeared at times caught off guard by the tempo of the game – issues that would undoubtedly affect anyone calling live sports in Los Angeles from a studio in Connecticut.

Kremer did her best injecting anecdotes from conversations she had earlier in the week with team general managers and related personnel. Storm never missed a play or player’s number.

Actually, hearing what the pair said was tough, however. A situation only partly remedied by increasing the volume. In addition, never once were the pair ever shown on camera. In fact, after one commercial break, the webcast defaulted back to Buck and Aikman – requiring the viewer to exit the webcast and go back into settings.

Kremer and Storm offer a fresh approach to NFL broadcasts. Too bad Amazon appears indifferent to their actual presence.

 

Amazon Bowing First Female-Hosted Thursday Night Football Pre-Game Show, Game Webcasts

Rachel Lindsey

The NFL has yet to employ a female referee, but Amazon is about to make history on “NFL Thursday Night Football” with the Prime game webcast and special pre-game show – both hosted exclusively by women.

As previously announced, all 11 Thursday Night Football games on Amazon Prime – for the first time – will be called by veteran sports reporters Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm (replacing Joe Buck and Troy Aikman),

Prior to the webcast, Amazon is debuting “The Drive,” hosted by Fox Sports/ESPN sports reporter Charissa Thompson and reality TV star Rachel Lindsay.

The show will interview two opposing players on and off the field as they gear up for their “Thursday Night Football” game. One interview will be conducted with a player during an in-car ride-along during his daily commute, and the other player interview will take place at the team’s training facilities or the player’s home.

The series (with the first episode available here) will air weekly the Tuesday ahead of each week’s “Thursday Night Football” match-up in the U.S.

“The Drive” and “Thursday Night Football” games will be made available on the Prime Video app for TVs, game consoles, set top boxes, and connected devices, which includes Amazon Fire TV, mobile devices and online.

Charissa Thompson has spent almost a decade covering sports, and currently hosts “NFL GameDay Prime,” which airs Sunday nights on NFL Network and Fox. Prior to joining Fox, she co-hosted ESPN2’s “SportsNation,” and covered the NHL, including the 2010 All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Finals.

In 2010, Thompson reported on the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, the FIFA World Cup, the BCS National Championship Game, Super Bowl LI and the NBA All-Star Game for Yahoo! Sports.

Rachel Lindsay is an attorney, broadcaster, and columnist, with progressive experience in sports and entertainment. Lindsey is best known for her role as a contestant on the 21st season of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” and the lead on the 13th season of “The Bachelorette.” She is the first African-American lead in the franchise’s history. She works as a guest host for ESPN’s “First Take.”

Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full schedule and details below.

Thursday Night Football on Prime Video:

Week 4: Thursday, September 27
Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams

Week 5: Thursday, October 4
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

Week 6: Thursday, October 11
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Week 7: Thursday, October 18
Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals

Week 8: Thursday, October 25
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans

Week 9: Thursday, November 1
Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers

Week 10: Thursday, November 8
Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 11: Thursday, November 15
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Week 13: Thursday, November 29
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys

Week 14: Thursday, December 6
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

Week 15: Thursday, December 13
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

Amazon Prime Video Double-Faulting at U.S. Open Tennis Tournament?

Amazon Prime Video, unlike Netflix, isn’t adverse to streaming live sports. It is spending a reported $50 million annually for “NFL Thursday Night Football” through 2019.

The e-commerce behemoth also inked a five-year, $40 million deal to exclusively stream in the United Kingdom the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, currently taking place in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., through Sept. 9.

Amazon spared no expense for the tournament, building a TV stage and hiring veteran commentators, including former men’s champion Jim Courier, to cover the event.

But controversy quickly befell the live streams, with Prime Video subscribers turning to social media to vent their frustration about the poor picture/sound quality and lack of recording option, among other issues.

“This is just terrible. Tennis fans in the U.K. are in shock about this service,” wrote one viewer.

“This doesn’t feel like the future of live TV, blocky and jumpy and unwatchable on the Samsung Smart TV app,” wrote another.

In fact, Amazon was so inundated with complaints — about 90% of comments rated the live streams 1 or 2 stars — it suspended the comments section on Aug. 29.

“This product currently has limitations on submitting reviews. There can be a number of reasons for this, including unusual reviewing activity,” wrote Amazon.

A rep for Amazon U.K. attributed the issues to an IT problem, which the rep said was fixed by Aug.30. Amazon also reinstated the comments section.

“We are working with customers to address specific issues – we listen to all customer feedback and are always working to improve all aspects of our service,” said the rep, as reported by The Guardian.

Amazon isn’t alone among online platforms struggling to replicate linear TV sports broadcasts.

YouTube TV experienced technical issues streaming select soccer matches during the recent World Cup in Russia. Formula One was forced to issue refunds to subscribers of its nascent OTT video service following technical issues during the Spanish Grand Prix.

And DAZN, an over-the-top subscription video streaming service based in London, was forced to apologize to viewers following technical issues streaming Serie A Italian pro soccer.

 

 

Dotcom Pioneers All in for NFL Thursday Night Football

The National Football League suffered through a controversy-plagued season, underscored by declining attendance and slipping TV ratings – down 13%.

But that isn’t stopping Twitter, Amazon, Google-owned YouTube and Verizon from upping bids for first-time multiyear streaming rights to the 2018/19 season of NFL Thursday Night Football, according to Recode.net.

With Fox Sports securing exclusive Thursday Night Football broadcast rights over the next five years for $3.3 billion – nearly 50% more than what NBC and CBS paid to split rights to 10 games last season, expect online properties to dig deep into the wallet as well.

Indeed, Twitter secured rights in 2016 for $10 million, a figure that ballooned to $50 million in 2017 for Amazon Prime Video.

While Verizon has select mobile streaming rights along with Fox, it could seek to expand them for its fledgling Oath platform. And YouTube, which is shipping the YouTube Red brand internationally, in addition to upping content selection (and pricing) for YouTube TV, is interested, CEO Susan Wojcicki told Recode’s Code Media confab this week in Huntington Beach, Calif.

But without deep-pocket market leader Netflix, which steadfastly declines any interest in live sports, dramatically up the bidding price, streaming rights should remain reasonably priced considering online viewership to Thursday Night Football pales in comparison to broadcast. An early season game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers generated 373,000 viewers on Prime Video, compared to 14.6 million for broadcast.