Prime Video’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ Sees 24% Uptick in Second-Season Viewership

Prime Video’s $11 billion foray into live NFL streaming is resonating with more viewers in its second exclusive season.

The weekly “Thursday Night Football” telecasts saw a 24% increase in viewers in 2023 at 11.86 million compared with 9.58 million in 2022, according to new Nielsen data. This current NFL season saw 13 weeks of double-digit streaming viewership increases, including among the coveted 18-34-year-old demo.

Indeed, “Thursday Night Football” is attracting streamers with a median age seven years younger (48.5) than on linear television. Fox Sports was the previous exclusive broadcast rights holder to “Thursday Night Football.”

The Nov. 30, 2023, game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys attracted the largest Prime Video viewership at 15.3 million, breaking the season-opening 15.1 million viewer benchmark for the Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles matchup.

The second season of “Thursday Night Football.” also included the inaugural “Black Friday Football” game the day after Thanksgiving featuring the Miami Dolphins’ 34-13 victory over the New York Jets.

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“We’re still very much at the beginning, but [the] record growth [for ‘Thursday Night Football’] in our second season is beyond encouraging as we work to super serve fans and advertisers,” Jay Marine, VP, Prime Video, and global head of sports, said in a statement. “We are building ‘TNF’ on Prime into an incredibly valuable franchise, and our production and tech teams deserve a great deal of credit for the quality and innovation we have delivered to fans, and we are just getting started.”

Nielsen to Begin Tracking Prime Video Live Streaming

Data tracking firm Nielsen reportedly will begin tracking live streaming on Prime Video — specifically the streamer’s exclusive coverage of NFL Thursday Night Football — incorporating Amazon’s internal data.

The move, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, would appear to be a win-win for Nielsen and Prime Video, considering Nielsen’s ratings data for Thursday Night Football was 18% lower than Amazon’s.

Nielsen will also incorporate other third-party streamer’s live data in its data measurements. The company currently tracks Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Max, Peacock, Disney+, Paramount+ and Hulu in its weekly Top 10 most-streamed content chart.

NFL Owners Delay Decision on ‘Flexing’ Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football Schedule

NFL team owners have tabled until May any decision regarding flexing the lineup for Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football schedule.

Heading into the annual team owners meeting in Phoenix, a key issue involved the less-than-desirable game match-ups offered on the exclusive “Thursday Night Football” streams.

Amazon is paying the NFL $1 billion annually over the next 10 years for rights to Thursday Night Football, which has often featured, some would argue, throwaway games that last year included the Washington Commanders’ mind-numbing 12-7 win over the Chicago Bears, followed by the Indianapolis Colts’ 12-9 snoozer over the Denver Broncos. A previous game saw the New York Jets produce a lone field goal in regulation play.

Team owners discussed the possibility flexing games held later in the season from Sunday to Thursday, but they were unable to come to an agreement.

Asked about the impact that would have on ticket holders and fans planning trips with specific game days in mind, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at a press conference, said any changes to the schedule would be done with consideration to all fans.

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“Obviously, providing the best matchups for our fans is part of what we do,” Goodell said. “That’s a part of what I think our scheduling has always focused on. And flex has been a part of that. We are very judicious with it, and we are very careful with it. And we look at all of the impacts to that.”

The commissioner seemed to punt the issue when he said the league would average in the years it has flexed the schedule with any possible impact on season-ticket holders and in-stadium audience.

“So, before those decisions are made … we have millions of fans who also watch on television … [and] reaching them is a balance that you always strike, and making sure we do it right,” Goodell said.

Amazon: Average Weekly ‘Thursday Night Football’ Viewership Topped 11.3 Million — Down From TV Viewership Last Year

Amazon reported Prime Video’s first season of exclusive NFL “Thursday Night Football” coverage delivered a run of streaming milestones and sports media breakthroughs.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the inaugural season of “TNF” on Prime Video featured the most-streamed NFL football games ever and attracted audiences that were considerably younger, watched more minutes of the game, and commanded higher household incomes than NFL viewers on traditional broadcast and cable platforms.

The 15-game average of each “TNF” stream’s peak viewership reached 11.3 million, which is down 8% from an average of 12.3 million viewers when the game was a split telecast on Fox Sports and NFL Network. Prime Video said the average game viewership reached 9.58 million, which was more than 16% below 2021.

Amazon is paying the NFL $11 billion for exclusive distribution rights to ‘Thursday Night Football” through 2033.

“Thursday Night Football” finished the season with the youngest median age of any NFL broadcast package since 2013 and enjoyed a double-digit jump over the previous season among hard-to-reach 18- to 34-year-old viewers.

“We are only at the beginning of a long-term mission, but are ecstatic with the results and achievements of this first season, bringing millions of new viewers to Prime Video every week,” Jay Marine, VP of prime video and global head of sports, said in a statement.

Each Thursday throughout the 2022 NFL season, Prime Video’s streaming presentation featured Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit and Kaylee Hartung handling game coverage, as well as myriad options for alternate streams, instant access to game stats and options such as “Rapid Recap.”

Prime Video’s pregame and postgame featured host Charissa Thompson, Tony Gonzalez, all-star boradcasting rookies Ryan Fitzpatrick, Richard Sherman and Andrew Whitworth, and contributors Taylor Rooks and Michael Smith, contributing to more than 285 million video views across “TNF’s” social channels throughout the season.

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Other “Thursday Night Football” stats saw the average audience cross the 10-million mark six times during the 2022 season, ranking the games high among the most-watched events in all of television.

Throughout the 2022 season, fans watching “TNF” on Prime held a median age of 47 years old, which is seven years younger than the average median age of viewers watching the NFL on linear TV. “TNF” on Prime viewers earned a median household income of $98,500, which is 19% higher than audiences watching the NFL on linear networks ($82,800).

Streamers Up Embrace of Live Programming

NEWS ANALYSIS — The Sept. 19 debut of the 31st season of “Dancing with the Stars” on Disney+ marked the first time the venerable dance competition had been live-streamed on an over-the-top video platform. The move came after Disney-owned ABC TV earlier this year disclosed it would no longer broadcast the show. While Nielsen hasn’t disclosed viewership data for the dance competition on Disney+, it is worth noting that the show’s primary viewing audience is older than 63 years of age, according to Nielsen. That age demo represents just 9% of the Disney+ subscriber base, according to Nielsen.

Disney’s next live-streamed event will be singer Elton John’s reported last concert in the U.S. in November.

The live-streamed event followed the Sept. 15 debut of NFL “Thursday Night Football” exclusively on Prime Video. With Amazon paying $1 billion annually over the next 11 years for the rights, the e-commerce behemoth no longer shares the coveted game with Fox Sports.

Amazon disclosed that the three-hour game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers generated the most Prime signups ever for the e-commerce platform. Prime Video is among several perks afforded Prime members by Amazon. How much higher “Thursday Night Football” sends Prime membership above 200 million remains to be seen — as evidenced by the NFL’s humorous tweet (below) from the game of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Nielsen Sept. 22 disclosed the game reached 11.9 million internet-connected household televisions, a tally that increases to around 13 million when factoring in additional devices. Amazon reportedly contends the game reached 15 million viewers.

“Our first exclusive TNF broadcast delivered the most watched night of primetime in the U.S. in the history of Prime Video,” Jay Marine, head of sports at Amazon, reportedly wrote in a staff memo. “This is a massive achievement. We also saw the biggest three hours for U.S. Prime sign ups ever in the history of Amazon — including Prime Day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday.”

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Regardless, the viewership did not match the two-episode premiere of Amazon Studios’ pricey “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” series is doubtful. Amazon said more than 25 million people streamed the show on the first day worldwide.

Regardless, the football game production, including the high-profile announcing crew of Al Michaels and longtime college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, came off without any technical glitches.

“While we’re still waiting for official Nielsen ratings … this was also a huge technical achievement — our tech and product teams rose to the challenge and delivered a fantastic streaming experience to our millions of viewers,” Marine wrote.

Prime Video Offering Gadgets, Deals for First Exclusive NFL ‘Thursday Night Football’ Game Streaming Sept. 15

In anticipation of the first “Thursday Night Football” game streaming exclusively on Prime Video on Sept. 15, Amazon is offering Prime members myriad gameday offers and specials, including NFL-licensed products as well as deals and discounts exclusively for Prime members, on amazon.com/TNFcentral.

Prime Video over the summer became the first streaming service to air a season-long exclusive national broadcast schedule of games with the NFL. The 11-year deal (worth a reported $11 billion) includes 15 regular-season games and one preseason game per year, with Prime Video also delivering new pregame, halftime and postgame shows, as well as interactive features like X-Ray and Next Gen Stats powered by AWS.

Prime Video will kick off the “Thursday Night Football” season by teaming up with Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, who will join Prime members in Los Angeles on Sept. 15 for an interactive viewing experience when the Los Angeles Chargers take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Live sports continue to be a game changer for Prime members,” Jamil Ghani, VP of Amazon Prime, said in as statement.

Prime members can also enjoy exclusive deals throughout football season on home entertainment devices, starting on Sept. 19. Deals include special pricing deals on Fire TV smart-TVs, streaming devices and Echo Studio smart speakers.

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Streamers can save up to 25% on select NFL gear, including apparel, tailgate essentials, footwear and drinkware, beginning Sept. 15. And save up to 20% on select T-shirts and hoodies featuring NFL teams from Team Fan Apparel on Sept. 22.

Other special events include a “Thursday Night Football” watch party for more than 250 Prime members who added the weekly NFL game to their Prime Video Watchlist. Jerry Rice will join the Sept. 15 event at The Fonda Theatre to kick off the “Thursday Night Football” season. Invited Prime members and their guests will be treated to live commentary, game sound effects, and other interactive enhancements. Rice will be joined by the event’s host and broadcast journalist and television personality Cari Champion, along with special guests Hall of Fame Chargers running back and current NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson, former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver and kick returner Dante Hall, and actor and comedian Rob Riggle.

At the opening of the game, composer Pinar Toprak will lead an orchestra in a rendition of the new “Thursday Night Football” theme song, performed live for the first time. Attendees will experience the game through LED screens as well as sound effects from key game moments amplified by DJs. Each TV timeout will also include a host of games for attendees to compete in for prizes, and to be part of the game’s action.

Throughout the season, more than 150 Prime members and their guests who added “Thursday Night Football” to their Prime Video Watchlist and received an invitation, will receive a curated package of premiere experiences to celebrate the Thursday game’s new home on Prime Video.

In addition to game tickets, guests will receive a personal video from a hometown player ahead of the respective game they will attend. Guests will be provided a hotel room with goodie bags and premium giveaways to prepare for the game. Following transportation to the game, Prime members will meet with special guests including retired players, who will share behind-the-scenes team and player insights for the ultimate insider’s look.

Prior to kickoff, guests will get up close and personal to the action as they stand on the field during pregame warmups. At game time, guests will make their way to their seats in the Prime-branded section and enjoy food and beverages throughout the game. At the end of each game, guests will enjoy a personalized game football as a keepsake.

Each “Thursday Night Football” game will also stream live on Twitch and will be available on over-the-air TV stations in the two local home markets of the competing teams, as well as on smartphones and tablets on NFL+. The games will also stream in Spanish on Prime Video on the TNF en Español alternate stream.

Local TV Station Trade Group Says NFL ‘Thursday Night Football’ Viewership Rivals Prime Video Streaming

On Aug. 25, Amazon debuted its first exclusive Prime Video NFL “Thursday Night Football” game as part of the streamer’s 11-year rights to the weekly game — reportedly valued at $1.2 billion annually.

The preseason matchup featuring the San Francisco 49ers at the Houston Texans generated 1.04 million total viewers, nationally. In the two home markets where the game aired on local broadcast TV (San Francisco and Houston) the game attracted 494,135 combined total viewers, or nearly half of the national delivery, according to Nielsen data.

A special quirk in the Prime Video deal is that the NFL is broadcasting the weekly game on local TV stations in the home markets of teams competing.

To Steve Lanzano, CEO of the Television Bureau of Adverting (TVB) trade group, the viewership numbers underscore the power of local broadcast TV and major sports franchises.

“Just two local TV stations in San Francisco and Houston easily attracted 48% of Amazon’s national delivery, and that’s just preseason!” Lanzano said in a statement.

According to Nielsen, Prime Video generated 1,035,000 (Live+SD P2+) impressions. The local KTVU station in San Francisco generated 264,355 impressions, and local Houston station KRIV generated 229,780 impressions.

Prime Video Inks NFL ‘Thursday Night Football’ Retail Business Distribution Deal With DirecTV

Amazon and DirecTV have entered into a multiyear agreement to offer Prime Video’s exclusive “Thursday Night Football” slate of games lineup to more than 300,000 sports bars, restaurants, hotel lounges, casinos and sports books, retail shops and services, and other venues nationwide.

Amazon has exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” across all media channels for the next 11 years, paying the NFL $1 billion annually for those rights.

“The sports media landscape continues to evolve rapidly, and the focus on delivering a great experience to our entire range of customers must remain at the center of that evolution,” Rob Thun, chief content officer at DirecTV, said in a statement.

The first TNF game available to commercial accounts through “DirecTV for Business” is the final NFL preseason matchup on Aug. 25 between the San Francisco 49ers at the Houston Texans. The agreement also includes the entire 15-game complement of regular season Thursday Night Football games, starting Sept. 15 when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Any current DirecTV customers subscribing to Business Entertainment, Business Xtra, Commercial Entertainment, Commercial Xtra, Commercial Choice PLUS and the Spanish-language Commercial Mas Ultra will automatically receive this new Prime Video TNF feed for no additional cost. The new Prime Video content will reside on DirecTV channel 9526 adjacent to other major sports streaming services and events.

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Thursday Night Football Schedule:
Pregame Coverage Begins at 7 p.m. ET. Kickoff Time 8:15 p.m. ET.

Preseason Week 3 — Aug. 25: San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans (NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)
Week 2 — Sept. 15: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)
Week 3 — Sept. 22: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)
Week 4 — Sept. 29: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH)
Week 5 — Oct. 6: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO)
Week 6 — Oct. 13: Washington Commanders at Chicago Bears (Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
Week 7 — Oct. 20: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ)
Week 8 — Oct. 27: Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)
Week 9 — Nov. 3: Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans (NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)
Week 10 — Nov. 10: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)
Week 11 — Nov. 17: Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers (Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI)
Week 13 — Dec. 1: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA)
Week 14 — Dec. 8: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams (SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA)
Week 15 — Dec. 15: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (Lumen Field, Seattle, WA)
Week 16 — Dec. 22: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
Week 17 — Dec. 29: Dallas Cowboys at Tennessee Titans (Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN)

Nielsen, Amazon Sign Agreement for National TV Measurement of NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ on Prime Video

Nielsen and Amazon Aug. 16 announced the signing of a three-year agreement to measure Prime Video’s exclusive NFL “Thursday Night Football” telecasts, a first-of-its-kind deal where a streaming service will be included in Nielsen’s National TV measurement service. Starting with the 2022 NFL season, measurement will include full coverage of the TNF broadcast — pregame, in-game and postgame programming — on Prime Video and Twitch, as well as the over-the-air stations in teams’ local markets each week, and out-of-home viewing.

This will be the first time a streaming service will have one of its live programs measured as part of Nielsen’s National TV measurement service. TNF will be measured and processed like all other NFL games, using Nielsen’s panel, allowing for the same metrics to be reported across all other national networks, continued trending, and comparability. According to Nielsen’s ratings, NFL games and shoulder programming such as pregame and postgame accounted for the top 27 live telecasts in 2021, and 47 of the top 50.

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Deirdre Thomas, managing director of U.S. audience measurement product sales at Nielsen, said the company’s long-time leadership tracking viewership across the household television is that gold-standard currency to the media industry.

“We are committed to delivering comparable, comprehensive measurement of all audiences, across all platforms, and this agreement to measure TNF viewership is a testament to that commitment,” Thomas said in a statement.

“Our collaboration with Nielsen will allow us to provide advertisers with familiar campaign measurement to make apples-to-apples comparisons across their multi-channel media investments,” added Srishti Gupta, director of media measurement for Amazon Ads.

Gupta said the Nielsen partnership will enable advertisers to have access to metrics from Amazon that could provide insights to understand brand awareness, engagement and sales.

“This combination of first and third-party measurement is something only Amazon can provide,” he said.

Nielsen will begin measuring TNF on Amazon starting with its preseason game Aug. 25 featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans. Amazon’s exclusive 15-game TNF regular season slate kicks off Sept. 15 when the Los Angeles Chargers travel to Arrowhead to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Twenty-nine of the NFL’s 32 clubs will appear on TNF this season, culminating Dec. 29 when the Tennessee Titans host the Dallas Cowboys.

Parks: Amazon’s ‘NFL Thursday Night Football’ Deal to Push U.S. Prime Membership Beyond 50%

Exclusive access to “NFL Thursday Night Football” may cost Amazon billions, but the e-commerce behemoth’s 11-year carriage agreement will boost U.S. Prime membership, according to Parks Associates.

The Dallas-based research firm June 2 disclosed new consumer data that suggests 47% of U.S. broadband households currently subscribe to Prime Video. That percentage could move past 50% following the landmark content rights deal, which kicks in 2022 and is reportedly worth $1 billion annually to the NFL.

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Parks says the pact will help increase Prime’s subscription uptake among regular NFL viewers through exclusive rights to stream Thursday night football games.

The arrangement will boost advertising dollars, data captured, and exposure to sports fans for Amazon’s streaming service. The NFL deal preceded Amazon’s merger with film studio MGM for $8.45 billion, announced May 26. That acquisition will likewise help Amazon boost subscriptions to its Prime e-commerce and Prime Video services with the addition of MGM’s IP, which includes the “James Bond” and “Robocop” movie franchises.

Parks Associates estimates that 77.3 million U.S. households are Prime members, and that roughly 71% watch Prime Video, totaling nearly 55 million households in Q1 2021.

“By offering live games, streaming services give the significant market of NFL fans a reason to subscribe,” Parks research director Steve Nason said in a statement. “As OTT becomes an integral part of its strategy, the NFL is working to secure viewers, and profits, for the next decade, and the Amazon partnership represents an outstanding and unprecedented opportunity to set the stage for success.”

Parks’ data from 10,000 U.S. broadband households finds 55% of pay-TV households consider live sports important in their decision to keep their service. Additionally, more than two-thirds of online pay-TV subs and 43% of traditional pay-TV subs who canceled their service during COVID-19 were likely to re-subscribe following the return of live sports.

Other media conglomerates have also expanded their live NFL coverage to incorporate both traditional TV and OTT. Disney will air one international game on ESPN+ and add one exclusive national game yearly, beginning in 2022. Additionally, NBCUniversal will air Sunday Night Football on its linear NBC channel and stream select games on its OTT service Peacock.

“Traditional video is dwindling and a diversified distribution strategy is the only logical method of growing NFL viewership,” Nason said. “While traditional players won’t see reductions to their coverage content, the lack of exclusivity over one of their biggest remaining assets will be detrimental to adding new viewers.”