As the wait continues for the official Nielsen audience numbers for Thursday night’s game between the Chargers and Chiefs, Amazon has high hopes. Higher even than what Amazon reportedly had hoped for.
Before the season began, Amazon reportedly told potential advertisers that the audience for the streaming-only game (with traditional TV in the home markers of the two teams) will hit 12.5 million. John Ourand of Sports Business Daily reports that Amazon executive Jay Marine informed staff on Monday afternoon that the official viewership figure “should exceed” that number.
“While we’re still waiting for official Nielsen ratings, our measurement shows that the audience numbers exceeded all of our expectations for viewership,” Marine wrote.
On Saturday, Ourand reported that the final numbers were expected by Monday. Ourand now reports that the numbers won’t arrive until Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday.
Obviously, something seems fishy. And Amazon has a clear incentive to find a way to pump up the numbers. The NFL does, too. With big numbers reported for the first game, more people may be inclined to tune in to the next one, and so on. Reporting gigantic numbers creates a belief in those who didn’t watch that they’re missing out on something millions of others are enjoying.
Still, Amazon and the NFL will need all the help they can get to get people to watch Thursday night’s game, given that the quarterback matchup has deteriorated from Justin Herbert versus Patrick Mahomes to (checks notes and dry heaves) Mitch Trubisky vs. Jacoby Brissett.
And, yes, I choose to be skeptical about all of this. It’s highly unlikely that more than 10 million people watched Thursday’s game. If so, there would have been a lot more complaints about Amazon’s clunky fast-forward and rewind features, along with the periodic (or, for me in the second half incessant, buffering).
We all have to deal with streaming only NFL games on Thursday nights. But we’re not required to like it. And the media isn’t required to blindly praise the performance of the product when, in comparison to what other streaming services (like YouTube TV on Monday night with both Tennessee-Buffalo and Minnesota-Philly playing out without a hitch) can do.