Amazon's Thursday Night Football makes record-breaking debut on Prime Video

The news: Amazon's season-two Thursday Night Football opener set records for both the Prime Video platform and for NFL game streaming overall. This includes viewership metrics not only from Prime Video but also from Twitch and NFL Plus.

  • According to Nielsen's “panel-only” ratings, the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings drew an average of 15.1 million viewers across all digital and linear platforms, a jump of over 16% from last year's opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • When taking into account Amazon's internal data, the viewership tally climbed to 16.6 million.

Why it matters: The age demographic data provided by Nielsen highlighted that the total audience had a median age of 47—seven years younger than the standard NFL TV audience. This statistic underscores Amazon's success in addressing a core objective of the league to attract younger viewers.

  • There has been controversy surrounding these numbers. Amazon faced scrutiny after reports emerged suggesting that overall ratings performance had dipped by 41% last season.
  • This led to a dispute over the accuracy of such data, particularly the collection methods used by Nielsen.
  • Nielsen had initially planned to incorporate Amazon's own data but rescinded the decision after facing pushback from the Video Advertising Bureau and other stakeholders.

Our take: Amazon's achievement with the Thursday Night Football opener shows the increasing importance and potential of streaming platforms in sports broadcasting. Their ability to tap into younger audiences presents a unique value proposition for leagues and advertisers.

  • The disparity between Nielsen's ratings and Amazon's internal data also underscores a major industry challenge: the need for standardized and accurate viewership measurement methods for streaming. This emphasis on precise audience measurement will be crucial for advertisers and leagues to understand the true value and reach of their content on streaming platforms.
  • While Amazon's record-breaking viewership numbers signal a shift in the broadcasting landscape, they also spotlight the pressing need for clear, consistent, and accepted viewership metrics in the streaming era.