Amazon Prime 'TNF' Premiere Draws Record Sign-Ups, Prime-Time Viewing

Amazon Prime’s Sept. 15 “Thursday Night Football” (TNF) debut was the streamer’s most-watched U.S. prime time ever, and drew more new subscribers than any other three hours in its history, including Prime Day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday, according to an internal memo by Jay Marine, vice president, Prime Video, global head of sports.

While noting that no official Nielsen stats were yet available on the service’s inaugural game, in which the Kansas City Chiefs bested the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24, Marine declared the debut “a massive achievement” in the memo, obtained and published first by Deadline.

“From the stellar production of the game, to the quality of the stream customers watched at home, Prime Video proved we are among the very best in sports media,” he added.



Amazon has a lot riding on the performance of TNF, to say the least, having agreed to pay the NFL an estimated $1 billion annually over the next 11 years for exclusive rights to stream 15 TNF games per season, or about 80% more than Fox was paying to air most of the Thursday night games for the past four seasons.

Marine’s memo did not make a specific viewership claim for the first game, but Amazon reportedly told media buyers it expects to pull about 12.6 million viewers per game — lower than the 16.4 million average for last year’s games on Fox and NFL Network.  

Somewhat lower viewership is expected due to the fan transition from traditional linear to streaming — not to mention that viewing requires being a subscriber to Amazon Prime Video, either through a standalone subscription starting at $8.99, or through membership in the Prime loyalty program.

Amazon is betting that TNF will not only drive substantial numbers of new subscribers, but subscribers likely to stick for the long term, thus building overall subscription base numbers to support and expand both advertising revenue and customer lifetime value realized through expenditures across Amazon’s many businesses through customer lifetime value over decades.

“You’re going to go there and maybe you’ll stay longer to watch ‘Lord of the Rings,’ because on Prime you can’t escape the ‘Lord of the Rings’ advertising,” Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin noted to Yahoo Finance. “Then, that puts Amazon in a higher brand category in terms of relevance to your life and it takes on a bigger role in consumers’ value perception.”

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