Amazon’s NFL experiment starts tonight

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As the football-following world continues to wait for the numbers generated by Sunday’s Ravens-Jaguars worldwide stream on Yahoo, there will be no similar delay when it comes to Amazon’s experiment with live NFL game action. If Amazon remains true to form, no information whatsoever will be provided regarding how many people watched the Bears-Packers game via the $99-per-year Prime service.

Yes, the first Amazon game streams tonight, as a supplement to the CBS and NFL Network broadcast. Amazon supposedly paid five times Twitter’s $10 million fee for 10 games in 2016, a number that sources with knowledge of the situation previously told PFT has been inflated, possibly to create the false impression that the property is worth more than it really is.

In this specific case, it’s hard to imagine it being really worth all that much. As explained by Variety.com, Amazon hopes to increase subscribers to Prime. Ultimately, however, who is the this going to attract? It’s a narrow sub-sub-subset of people who don’t have access to CBS or NFLN on 10 Thursday nights from September and December and are willing to plunk down the money for any, some, or all of the games.

Maybe I’m wrong (wouldn’t be the first time . . . today). Maybe there are 500,000 people who have been on the fence about subscribing to Prime and who made the decision to pay the money based on the added perk of having access to Thursday Night Football. (If only the Amazon NFL season had debuted last Thursday.)

The truth may be that Amazon and the NFL have opted for a limited-audience test run to see whether Amazon will be a viable (i.e., better than DAZN) partner for OTT broadcasts when it’s time to put all TV contracts out to bid. Or maybe, at a minimum, the Amazon-NFL relationship will be enough to squeeze the networks to not simply pay what they’d previously paid the next time the contracts are negotiated but to pay significantly more, which has been the previous trend when it’s time to do new deals.

Whatever the motivation, the goal hopefully isn’t to maximize the audience. If it were, the games would still be streaming on Twitter at no charge.