As the Chargers and Chiefs prepare to meet for the first (sort of) Thursday night game of the regular season on September 15, I’m expecting to get a phone call from my father-in-law. It will go something like this.
“What channel is the game on?”
“Wow, you really are a Meathead.”
“It’s not on TV. It’s available only on streaming.”
“It’s an Internet thing. You need to have Amazon Prime.”
“What the hell is that?”
“Just come over and watch the game here.”
The NFL and Amazon have tried, we think, to make football fans aware of the seismic shift in Thursday Night Football, with the games moving from three-letter broadcast TV to a three-syllable streaming service. Whatever the league and Amazon have done, it hasn’t been sufficient.
A recent poll commissioned by Cumulus Media and Westwood One shows that not nearly enough ardent football fans, and non-ardent football fans, are aware that the Thursday night game has exited traditional, over-the-air TV and landed on a provider that requires reliable, high-speed Internet service and the purchase of Amazon Prime.
Per the poll (via BarrettSportsMedia.com), only 23 percent of all Americans 18 years or older are aware that Thursday Night Football will be available only on Amazon. Of occasional NFL viewers, only 30 percent know about the shift. And for frequent NFL viewers, merely 47 percent know. Which means that more than half of frequent NFL viewers just don’t know.
They’ll know soon, if they don’t know now. And plenty of them will be upset. Whether they don’t have sufficiently fast Internet or they don’t have a smart TV or they don’t have Amazon or simply resent the fact that what had been free for so long no longer is, they’ll react.
Some will complain and still buy access to the games. Some won’t. It will be interesting to see what the numbers will be. And whether those numbers will be disclosed.
Whatever they are, they won’t be the numbers the NFL is accustomed to on Thursday nights.