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The NFL’s bet on streaming is looking like it will pay off.
The first Thursday Night Football game on Amazon’s Prime Video Sept. 15 averaged 13.03 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s pretty well in line with the Thursday franchise’s average on Fox and the NFL Network last season (12.84 million for all games). The 13 million figure also includes over-the-air broadcasts in the home markets of the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. Those broadcasts accounted for about 1.16 million viewers, which would put the streaming-only audience at 11.87 million.
Amazon had given advertisers a guarantee of 12.5 million viewers for TNF, and the combined streaming and over-the-air viewership exceeded that number for the first game. The Sept. 15 contest was up by 47 percent over Thursday Night Football’s opener last season (8.84 million viewers on NFL Network and digital platforms).
Amazon’s own metrics, which include more detailed information about viewers watching via Prime Video (and across all types of devices), puts the audience for Thursday Night Football at 15.3 million. The game also had several alternate streams, including one on Amazon’s Twitch platform.
The average viewer age for Thursday Night Football was 46, compared to 53 for the first two weeks of games on broadcast and cable outlets. The game’s 4.25 rating among adults ages 18-34 was also the best for any NFL game in the first two weeks of the season.
On the flip side, the last Chargers-Chiefs meeting late in the 2021 season — also on a Thursday — drew nearly 18 million viewers on Fox and NFL Network. Compared to the NFL’s other week two telecasts, Thursday Night Football outdrew the Monday Night Football double bill (7.92 million on ESPN and ESPN2 for the earlier game, 12.86 million on ABC for the later one) but came in behind Sunday telecasts on CBS, Fox and NBC, which ranged from just over 14 million to 27.4 million viewers.
Amazon and Nielsen signed a three-year agreement in August that will allow the latter to provide ratings for Thursday Night Football that are the same as those for other NFL games on broadcast and cable outlets. (The Thursday games also air on local stations in the teams’ home markets.)
Ratings for the Sept. 15 game, a 27-24 win for the Chiefs, were delayed for several days as Nielsen took its time to ensure its numbers were correct.
Prior to the release of the Nielsen figures, Prime Video’s global head of sports, Jay Marine, wrote in a memo to staffers that the debut TNF game “exceeded all our expectations for viewership.”
“Our first exclusive TNF broadcast delivered the most watched night of primetime in the U.S. in the history of Prime Video,” Marine wrote.
Last season’s 12.84 million viewer average for Thursday Night Football included NFL Network-exclusive games, which drew 7.66 million per contest, and 10 Fox/NFL Network simulcasts that averaged 14.91 million.
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Robert De Niro