Will NFL fans flock to Amazon Prime for Thursday Night Football?

A camerman records a video near the poster of Amazon Prime
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Eight years ago, the NFL enlisted Hall of Famer Lynn Swann to assist with a clumsy and clunky effort to preserve the blackout rule.

The league, facing mounting pressure for its position that games not sold out within 72 hours of kickoff would not be televised in the local market, linked the anti-blackout crowd with the “Pay-TV” bogeyman.

“Pay-TV lobbyists have manufactured a controversy in an effort to change the current rule and charge fans for games they currently watch for free,” the website pushing the league’s “Protect Football on Free TV” initiative declared in 2015. “We cannot let these special interests dictate what is best for NFL fans and their communities.”

Fast forward to 2022, and one of the league’s most important TV packages is, you guessed it, available exclusively on Pay TV. Although the teams that play in the Thursday night games on Amazon Prime will have their contests televised for free in the local markets, everyone else will have to: (1) have access to Amazon Prime; (2) enjoy high-speed Internet access that will allow the games to be televised in an enjoyable and effective way; and (3) understand how to activate and utilize Amazon Prime from a smart TV or other device.

The league has given Amazon Prime a strong package of games for Thursday night, with the obvious goal of propping up efforts to get people to pay for this Pay-TV product. (That said, it was inevitable that most teams would appear in the Thursday night package, since the league imposes the Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround on a given team only once per year, at most.) The real test comes in September, when the casual fan prepares to watch Chargers-Chiefs on Thursday, September 15, checks his or her local listings, and realizes that, unless Amazon Prime has been purchased, the game will not be seen in that household.

The audiences will be much smaller on Thursdays in 2022 than they were in years that featured an NFL Network and three-letter network simulcast. It’s a long-term play for the NFL and Amazon. And it will be interesting to see whether the league and/or Amazon employ full transparency and honesty when disclosing viewership numbers.

In 2017, the NFL didn’t release numbers for a Ravens-Jaguars game in London that streamed for free on Yahoo.com, claiming that they weren’t ready. A month later, they still weren’t ready. Six years later, is the NFL ready for what potentially will happen if fans aren’t ready to embrace Amazon Prime?

This means that the NFL and Amazon Prime will need to work diligently and persistently to raise awareness as to the shift of Thursday Night Football from broadcast to streaming. Although hard-core fans of the sport know it’s coming, most casual fans are and will remain clueless — possibly until the early evening of September 15, when they switch ’round and ’round ’til half past dawn through 57 channels and no NFL on.

22 responses to “Will NFL fans flock to Amazon Prime for Thursday Night Football?

  1. I don’t pay for commercials on MNF. I won’t pay for commercials on TNF. On the other hand commercial-free Red Zone (either one) is a good value.

  2. I already have prime but don’t know that I would sign up specifically for football.

  3. Who doesn’t have Amazon Prime already? Probably less than those that didn’t have NFL Network before the simulcast.

  4. Not me. Now if they had a Sunday Ticket type package where you could watch any out of market game, then I would be in.

  5. Thursday Night Football is exactly the kind of content I expect from Prime Video: Matchups without divisional implications, teams without game plans, and players without rest, but I guess they’re not always bad. Same deal with their store offerings, come to think of it.

  6. Doubtful. I dont have prime, but can use other people’s account. If you want to watch a game, and don’t have Prime, its easy enough to find someone who does.

    And, it’s only one game. If you care, going out to a sports bar to watch isn’t a difficult task. My go to already has deals on Thursdays to entice you in.

  7. I already have Prime and have not had the NFL network for years due to ATT. So TNF viewership will go up in my house.

  8. Any word on how this will work outside of the United States. In Canada NFL network games were not broadcast on NFL network even though we get that channel . They were shown on CTV or TSN. Will Canadians and other countries… Mex, UK, Ger, Brz, have to use Prime ?

  9. I won’t and I hope many others don’t either. The NFL owners really have no limit to their greed.

  10. I think the number of NFL fans with Prime TV and use it is probably close to the households who have the NFL Network. Some older fans might fumble with it for a minute but don’t see it being an issue.

  11. I don’t pay for commercials on MNF. I won’t pay for commercials on TNF.
    ESPN is part of a package you have to pay your cable company for….so yes you do.

  12. No way for me. Not interested the Thursday game was the worst thing the NFL has done in years.

  13. How long before the owners greed and Amazon’s and Apple’s deep
    Pockets outbid the networks for all games

  14. This is a prelude to the NFL’s dream scenario of charging individual fans to watch a game AND selling ads for it. Much like cable, just cutting out the middleman.

  15. ABC/Disney killed MNF when they moved it to ESPN. If the NFL wants to compete for my entertainment dollar by upping the anti… Cool You’re welcome to try but squeezing me for more dollars is not in my best interest. Good Luck…

  16. The problem with the Amazon TNF experiment is that with streaming you pretty much have to watch commercials. Unlike with DTV sunday ticket or any other sporting event I just record it and start later so I can FF through the commercials and halftime as well.

    I cannot commit to sitting in front of my TV on Thursdays to watch for 3:15 consecutively. I love the game but unless it is my team I want to keep an eye on other games or shows I’ve recorded.

    That may just be me, but my guess is it isn’t.

  17. rdforty2 says:
    May 18, 2022 at 2:23 pm
    I dont have prime, but can use other people’s account. If you want to watch a game, and don’t have Prime, its easy enough to find someone who does.


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