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State of the Screens

Amazon Scores Big With Thursday Night Football

By September 23, 2022No Comments

Four big questions re: the sports + streaming:
1) Why was last week’s NFL Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime so important to the future of sports + streaming?
2) How many viewers tuned into the broadcast vs. expectations?
3) How did this compare to previous games?
4) How much are advertisers paying for ad spots?

Big question #1: Why was last week’s NFL Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime so important to the future of sports + streaming?

Quick answer: Amazon is paying $1.0B annually to air NFL Thursday Night Football exclusively (outside of home markets) on Amazon Prime.  This is a massive test of whether streaming can deliver a similar reach to linear TV.

Flashback: The NFL’s Streaming Future

Wow: Each NFL window was viewed 2-4X  as much as Stranger Things Season 4 over 17 weeks.

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Quote from Fred Gaudelli – Executive Producer @ Amazon:

“I was at ESPN when we had our first NFL game. You know what the NFL did for ESPN. It put it on a rocket to the moon that is still in orbit. Amazon is a huge company, a hugely successful company. But the NFL can take you places that most other entities can’t.”

Big question #2: How many viewers tuned into the broadcast vs. expectations?

Viewership for 2022 Thursday Night Football Week 2:
1) Expectation – 12.5M
2) Actual – 13.0M
3) Peak – 14.6M (10:45 – 10:59PM EST)

Big question #3: How did this compare to previous games?

Viewership for NFL Thursday Night Football Week 2 (YoY growth):
1) 2021 (NFL Network) – 9M
2) 2022 (Amazon Prime + KTTV/KHSB) – 13M (↑ 47%)

Average age for NFL Thursday Night Football:
1) 2021 – 53
2) 2022 – 46

Viewership for NFL Thursday Night Football Week 2 by source (% of total):
1) Streaming (Amazon Prime) – 11.8M (91%)
2) Broadcast in Los Angeles (Fox-KTTV) – 602K (5%)
3) Broadcast in Kansas City (NBC-KSHB) – 550K (4%)

Streaming only viewership for NFL games:
1) 2022 TNF Week 2 (Amazon Prime) – 11.8M
2) 2022 Super Bowl (Peacock) – 11.2M

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Bottom line #1: This is huge.  Live sports are the last holdout in the shift to streaming.  More people streamed a Thursday night game with 13M total viewers compared to the Super Bowl, which drew 112M. 

Bottom line #2: The shift to streaming is happening faster than even I (a streaming bull) would have anticipated.

Quote from Julia Alexander – Director of Strategy @ Parrot Analytics:
“A big part of the Amazon win.  Not the entire win; Amazon wants to be a major player in the media space and prove that it can use its tech capabilities to be a major distributor within the future of sports.”

Big question #4: How much are advertisers paying for ad spots?

Cost per 30-second spot (% change) during NFL Thursday Night Football according to Standard Media Index:
1) 2021 (Fox) – $635K
2) 2022 (Amazon Prime) – $550K (↓ 13%)

Michael Beach

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.