More details emerge regarding Amazon’s Chargers-Chiefs rating

NFL: SEP 15 Chargers at Chiefs
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There’s no dispute that the NFL draws a live audience unlike any other product, wherever the NFL televises its games. This year’s unprecedented shift from broadcast TV to exclusive streaming on Thursday nights sparks natural curiosity regarding the actual number of people who can and will seek out the game — and purchase the ability to watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

The first test came in the first game of the second week of the 2022 regular season. Chargers at Chiefs. Nielsen, retained by Amazon to create apples-to-apples numbers (ideally) between streaming and TV, said Thursday that 13 million had tuned in for the game played a week earlier.

On Friday, Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal added some details. With roughly 602,000 viewing the game on local TV in L.A. and another 555,000 in Kansas City, the streaming-only audience was 11.84 million.

There are other details that are relevant to a full understanding of the Week Two audience. An industry source has explained to PFT that factors such as “co-viewing” (viewer per household) and same-day viewing (the official term is “time-shifting,” which makes it sound a lot more interesting than it is) need to be scrutinized in order to better understand the reported numbers. If those calculations were, for example, significantly higher than usual, they would drive up the total viewership.

The fact remains that the ceiling for a game like Chargers-Chiefs on a three-letter network would have been at least 20 million. Thus, there’s plenty of work to be done to get streaming to where TV was and still is.

Also, it’s just one game. A very good game. What will the numbers be for less compelling games, especially as matchups that looked good in May inevitably look worse as the teams involved play more and more games?

At some point, we’ll see the audience numbers for Steelers-Browns. The quarterback matchup, relative to Chargers-Chiefs, didn’t help. The buzz from Nielsen releasing better-than-expected numbers for Chargers-Chiefs may have given the Week Three game a boost.

It’s an interesting story because the league has deliberately sacrificed short-term eyeballs (but not cash) in the name of getting ahead of long-term trends. How long will it take for the long-term trends to come to fruition? And can Amazon (and, inevitably, other streaming services) capture the same audience that traditional TV continues to enjoy?

Like the shift from three or four over-the-air networks to cable, audience size will likely shrink during the shift from traditional TV to streaming. But live NFL action continues to defy the trend toward on-demand viewing. Ultimately, time will tell whether the TV audiences to which the NFL has become accustomed will be replicated through streaming.

17 responses to “More details emerge regarding Amazon’s Chargers-Chiefs rating

  1. I for one will be happy to miss all the games on Amazon. I normally watch 2+ NFL games per week, but I am not paying any additional fees to watch on Thursday night.

  2. Well of course as we talk today having a game on traditional TV will render larger audiences but that isn’t the point of this now is it. Young viewers watch on line and that is the future. You can stick all your games on traditional TV outlets but before you know it you will be watched by only people who don’t buy products and aren’t long for this world.

    Streaming services are just another form of cable. Don’t be afraid of the change.

  3. I suppose I could watch it at a friend’s house who has Prime, but I have zero interest or intention of being a subscriber myself. I’m hoping that this is just another brick in the wall of the downfall of everything Bezos.

  4. There’s two misleading points in this analysis, the viewership ceiling and game quality.

    Is that ceiling number of 20 million based on all broadcast games or just the biggest ever audience for a Thursday night game? If it’s the latter, does it make sense to compare a Week 2 game to a Week 15 game with immediate playoff implications?

    And to that a “very good game” should draw larger numbers is to imply that the game play was a certainty. At best one should say it had *the potential* to be a very good game. A Thursday game that looked good at noon may turn into a blowout after 20 minutes of play and lose viewers while a predicted ho-hummer might turn into an incredible contest that no one saw. It really doesn’t make sense to consider anything more than the play potential when assessing ratings after the last whistle.

  5. I for one will be happy to miss all the games on over air tv and cable and just stream what I want after the games are over on NFL+ and never watch a commercial, as I have been doing for years. The only cord acceptable to me for years now is an internet connection, and I have found sports is not nearly as “necessary” as I once thought. I definitely found I will never watch a commercial again though, so I won’t even stream football on Thursday night.

  6. Color me skeptical that any regular fan cares at all about the previous ratings for any TV program.
    You’re either inclined to watch or not.
    Only TV executives think people outside their industry care about ratings the same way they do.

  7. I watched part of the Steelers game the other night on two different platforms (ROKU and then Apple TV). The picture quality was horrendous. I have a pretty good amount of band width and haven’t had this problem with most of my TV. Everything I have is streaming, including YouTube TV, and all other services. Extremely disappointing.

  8. I have Amazon Prime so its no extra cost to watch these games but so far I haven’t enjoyed them. The broadcast team isn’t as good and I can’t pause/rewind like a normal TV game. If it’s a really good match up I’ll still watch but otherwise I’m out

  9. If streaming is the way of the future, who has a couple grand laying around to get the wires to my house?

  10. I’ve never had any interest in watching Thursday night Football. Partly due to living in Alaska, and the game starts 2 hours before I can leave work. When my team played on Thursday nights, I used DVR and watch later. That’s not an option with Amazon, so count me as one of those who won’t/can’t watch the Thursday night games.

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