Many football fans are going to be left frustrated and bewildered when they turn on their televisions on Thursday evening September 15 and frantically scan their lineup of channels, looking for the Chargers-Chiefs game that started 10 minutes ago.
When Amazon Prime begins streaming Thursday’s NFL games exclusively in a few weeks, NFL fans will split into three factions:
1) Those who already know all about Amazon Prime and choose to pay (or in many cases continue to pay) up to $14.99 per month for it.
2) Those who know about the service but refuse to pay and prefer to find a friend – or a restaurant – where they can watch Thursday night games for free. Even if you don’t have any friends with Amazon Prime (or any friends at all), this second option will be available because Amazon will allow DirecTV to make the games available in select restaurants and sports bars.
3) Those who would like to watch the matches on Amazon Prime but do not know or cannot access sports on a streaming platform for geographical or economic reasons.
This latter group includes a fraction of fans – mostly older people – who are naturally tech-savvy (those unfamiliar with Amazon Prime from the Amazon rainforest), those who reside in rural pockets without high-speed internet, and those who cannot not afford computers.
But losing the audience of those fans – however many there are – or fans who just don’t want to watch a game on a tablet or smartphone is just collateral damage for the NFL, which was wrong. reject Amazon’s billion dollars. annual offer to replace Fox and NFL Network as the carrier for Thursday night games.
It’s no surprise, then, that Amazon received a good schedule, including Baltimore-Tampa Bay on October 27, Buffalo-New England on December 1, Las Vegas-LA Rams on December 8, and Dallas-Tennessee on December 29.
NBC will still air the regular season opener on Thursday (Buffalo-Rams Sept. 8) and the Thanksgiving Night game (New England-Minnesota).
And if you live in the city of one of the teams featured in Thursday Night Football, the game will be televised on live TV in your market, as it has for many years with ESPN cable broadcasts and NFLNetwork. So Dolphins-Bengals on Amazon on Thursday, September 29 will air on free-to-air TV in Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Cincinnati.
The NFL is poised to lose millions of viewers who don’t want to subscribe to Amazon to watch 15 NFL games a year.
“It’s only natural that Thursday’s viewership will drop as games move from a free-to-air network [Fox] to a streaming service,” NFL director of media and affairs Brian Rolapp said at the spring NFL owners meetings. “We [were] on average 15, 16 million [viewers] Thursday night football.
Rolapp reminded me and a few other reporters that “a package was created in the late ’80s for ESPN, and there was clearly a drop in that viewership. We can see that. If you talk to people at Amazon, their goal is not to have a deposit.
“I’m less worried about the reach of Amazon Prime. I’m more worried about how many of our fans know that’s where Thursday Night Football is. It’s more of an awareness issue than a reach issue. Amazon is working hard to try to figure out how to do this. The reason we chose them is because of the broad reach of the Prime platform and their ability to reach people as well as we do. have seen numerically.
Amazon Prime hopes hiring a star-studded broadcast booth (Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit) will entice viewers to subscribe to the service. I’ve yet to meet a fan watching a game because of the announcers, but Michaels brings cachet and credibility that can only help. In addition to calling NFL games on Amazon, Herbstreit will remain the primary college football game analyst for ABC and ESPN.
“I truly believe Amazon Prime is going to change the way people watch football,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “There are so many people who are not watching linear TV anymore, and they are streaming. I don’t believe we’re just going to take a TV show and put it on a different platform. … Amazon’s platform is going to allow us to do things that we have only dreamed of until now. . . .
“I think we’ll be able to reach fans where they are, how they want to engage, and also use more innovation to be able to engage them longer and differently than we do. have today.”
The move from major sports to streaming services was inevitable but still seems a little shocking.
The NFL has aired a single Amazon-only game each of the past two years, and MLB is offering two exclusive streaming packages this season — on Apple TV+ on Friday nights and Peacock (NBC’s streaming service) on Sunday noon.
ESPN placed dozens of NHL games on its streaming service (ESPN+) last season and ESPN+ will broadcast the Denver-Jacksonville NFL game on October 31 from London.
If you’re unfamiliar with Amazon Prime, a quick primer:
Prime Video is included if you’re a member of Amazon’s Prime program ($14.99 per month or $139 per year), which offers expedited and often free shipping on Amazon purchases. Prime has over 150 million members nationwide. You can also access Thursday Night Games by signing up to Prime Video only for $8.99 per month, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed.
For those who don’t like watching live sports on a phone or tablet, there are ways to watch Amazon Prime Video programming on a TV, as Business Insider explained in this article.
Among them: If you don’t have a smart TV, one way to get Amazon Prime Video on a TV is to connect a streaming player to your TV. Amazon sells streaming players, all of which feature Prime Video. Roku players and an Apple TV are among the other devices that can be used.
And for those who don’t want to learn about Amazon Prime or pay for it?
There is always the restaurant/watering hole option, but we recommend calling ahead to make sure they are broadcasting the games.
Meanwhile, NFL Sunday Ticket will air on DirecTV for one final season before moving to a streaming service in 2023. Apple TV+, Disney, Amazon and Google have made offers; Apple would be the favorite.
“Apple has only scratched the surface of what they will be able to do,” Rolapp said. “You see the consumption of media in this country and its shift to these streaming services. Amazon got there before anyone else, but they will all follow. They have lots of money.
The move of Thursday night games to a streaming service isn’t the only big NFL TV story this year.
If you missed it, Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are ESPN’s new “Monday Night Football” announcer team; they signed contracts worth a combined $165 million.
Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen replace them as Fox’s new main team this season (which includes the Super Bowl), but Tom Brady has agreed to become Fox’s senior game analyst after his retirement.
Additionally, Mike Tirico replaces Michaels as Cris Collinsworth’s partner on NBC’s Sunday Night games. Tirico was promised the job by 2022 when he joined NBC in 2016.