Streaming

Amazon Prime Video kicks off the ‘transition’ to streaming football

The streamer’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ broadcast aims to usher in a new era of sports viewing.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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Amazon Prime Video is ready for some football.

When the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers face off this evening, the first-ever Thursday Night Football game exclusive to Prime Video kicks off a considerable experiment: Amazon’s $1 billion per year bet on the future of sports viewing.

Leading up to the preseason matchup, Prime Video has pulled out all the stops, including:

  • Recruiting former Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli to lead the broadcast, and hiring big announcer talent
  • Creating a new logo and new theme music
  • Marketing the upcoming broadcast across Amazon’s footprint, including on Alexa devices, on Prime Video, and via Amazon boxes themselves

Those involved in the broadcast, including sportscasting legend Al Michaels, said during a press call this week that it’ll look a lot like what football fans are accustomed to.

“We are not going to reinvent the wheel,” Michaels said.

Be prepared for some changes: The broadcast will include interactive on-screen features, including alternative feeds, statistics, and on-demand replays, Gaudelli said, and the streamer plans to air an introductory video highlighting how to use those interactive features. Interactive shopping will also be a part of the experience, said Marie Donoghue, Amazon’s VP, global sports video.

But the biggest hurdle is getting fans to tune in, and execs are tempering expectations. Last year, Thursday Night Football games, then airing on Fox Sports, averaged 16.4 million viewers across all platforms; Amazon has reportedly told advertisers to expect around 12.5 million this season.

“It may not happen overnight, but we really think fans will come to this broadcast,” Donoghue said. In streaming, “the consumption trends are in our favor,” she added—and Prime Video wants to “lead that transition.”—KS

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