No matter what you think about streaming versus linear, it's hard to avoid the obvious when it comes to Prime Video and “Thursday Night Football.” There has been improvement vs. a year ago, its first year with the NFL packages.
Through a third of the season, Nielsen-measured TV ratings are up 25% versus last season game to average 12.91 million viewers. But perhaps more importantly, that level is 13% higher than 2021 -- so far -- when it was 11.4 million airing on the Fox Television Network/NFL Network.
The last data point is important because that number is against linear broadcast TV -- the Fox Television Network/NFL Network.
Both seasonal airings of “Thursday Night Football” -- on Fox and Amazon Prime Video -- allowed local-market fans of teams that play on the night to view the game via over-the-air broadcast TV on their home-market stations.
At the same time, the rest of the country still needs to choose whether to pay for it or not -- that is, getting a subscription to Amazon Prime or Prime Video. Consumers can also live stream on Twitch.
The overall picture of the 12.9 million viewers average -- comes from Prime, out-of-home, local station, and computer/mobile device measures.
Even with some big asterisks -- in terms of the new ways that viewers can now access “TNF” versus 2021 -- this is a major victory for streaming.
To be fair, Amazon's first season for its exclusive airing of “TNF” in 2022 didn't go that well. It had to offer makegoods for lower-than-expected -- and promised -- viewership to advertisers. Nielsen-only measurement of “TNF” was 9.6 million. Adding in Amazon's first-party internal metrics brought it up to 11.3 million for the complete first season.
In both seasons, Amazon has touted another high number: the median age of its "TNF" viewer is 47 years old -- seven years younger than viewers watching the NFL on linear TV networks.
The NFL believes Amazon has done a great job of promoting “TNF.” Surely Amazon's massive marketing machine -- around its monthly Prime subscription service --- is a big help.
In turn, this has benefitted the entire company -- tangentially and otherwise.
What about financial profitability? Drilling down on this granularity of just the programming and the advertising revenue supporting it may be tougher to figure out when it comes to Amazon's spending of over $1 billion a year in a 11-year contract for the rights of “TNF.”
No matter. There is more to do -- like perhaps the new NBA TV/streaming deals to come.
Amazon is not the only platform looking at this. Consider Apple, perhaps YouTube and other big digital media companies with deep pockets.
Could even Netflix be in the hunt? Know this: Everyone want to be in the game, and everyone wants to play ball.