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Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ NFL Debut Draws 13 Million Viewers

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About 13 million people watched the first “Thursday Night Football” regular-season game to be available primarily on

Amazon.com Inc.’s


AMZN -1.57%

Prime Video streaming service, according to Nielsen data.

Last week’s game, between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, was also broadcast on local television in the markets of the two teams, and was available free of charge on

Amazon’s


AMZN -1.57%

Twitch streaming platform. Nielsen’s 13 million audience number includes these viewers, as well as people watching the game outside of their home—in sports bars, for instance—and on NFL+, the National Football League’s own streaming service.

Amazon,

which is also tracking its own viewing data for the Thursday Night games, said the total audience of last week’s game was 15.3 million across all platforms, relying on Nielsen data and its first-party measurement.

Last season, the average audience for Thursday night NFL football on

Fox’s

broadcast network and the league-owned NFL Network cable channel was 16.4 million viewers. Fox parent Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent

News Corp

share common ownership. The equivalent “Thursday Night Football” game a year ago, which featured Washington against the New York Giants and aired solely on the NFL Network, was watched by about 8.8 million viewers.

Amazon, which is in the first season of an 11-year deal to be the primary home of “Thursday Night Football, is paying the NFL $1.2 billion annually for the rights, the Wall Street Journal previously reported. When selling ad inventory for the games this season, Amazon promised advertisers the Prime Video audience would be 12.6 million viewers, the Journal previously reported.

In an email to staff earlier this week reviewed by the Journal, Amazon Sports head Jay Marine said the game’s performance exceeded the company’s expectations. He said Amazon saw more U.S. signups for Prime during the three hours of the Thursday Night Football broadcast than in any other such period in its history, “including Prime Day, Cyber Monday, and Black Friday.”

Some fans said they experienced technical difficulties watching the game on Prime Video last week. Scott Wade of Milwaukee and Kevin Koperski of Vernon Hills, Ill., said the image quality wasn’t good. “At times, I couldn’t pick out the football,” Mr. Koperski said.

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on the technical issues experienced by some users.

Amazon is spending heavily on its production and talent for the game, signing legendary broadcaster Al Michaels to handle play-by-play duties.

The NFL has said the move to Amazon is part of a long-term vision to follow viewers—particularly younger demographics—to streaming services. “It is a reflection of the fact that our fans are consuming our game differently now than they previously were,” said NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Miller.

Mr. Miller compared the move to Amazon to the 1987 NFL decision to put games on a then relatively new cable network called ESPN, and the numbers weren’t great. “We believe this is the right thing for the long term whether or not the number is what Fox had received a year ago.”

Write to Joe Flint at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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