Amazon is hoping to get a piece of the NFL pie with their Thursday Night Football streams for Prime Video subscribers. Amazon paid $50 million for the right to stream eleven Thursday night games during the 2017 season. The first game they streamed was the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers matchup on September 28. While it did work eventually, the stream definitely had its fair share of issues.
The stream was available via the Fire TV Stick, Amazon’s website on a computer and the Prime Video app for mobile. According to Geek Wire, many users reported streaming issues on every platform during the beginning of the game. From buffering issues on the fire stick, video quality issues on the website and the Prime App consistently logging people out for no reason. Of course, these issues can easily be explained away by the sheer number of people who were trying to tune in. According to Amazon, people from 149 different countries were using their services to stream the game.
Thankfully, the stream sorted itself out rather quickly and went on without any more hiccups. The stream quality was notably different from Twitter’s approach last year in that there was no social integration, in fact the stream itself was fairly bare bones. Amazon’s streams mirrored the broadcasts on either CBS or NBC, making the experience very similar to what you would get should you watch it via regular broadcast.
In a smart marketing move, if a Prime user was logged into their Amazon account the game would auto-play in a small window in the upper right. However, somewhat bafflingly, there was no mention of the game for non-Prime users. This seems like a clear missed opportunity for Amazon to use their NFL investment to try to draw more subscribers to Prime. It is worth noting that there was a banner advertisement for some non-Prime users, but not all. What the criterion Amazon used for serving the NFL ad is unknown.
Despite the initial problems, this game should be viewed as a success for Amazon overall. They’re clearly working to reach an international audience, and the NFL seems to be a great tool to do so, if the data from this first game is any indication. Will it be worth the $50 million investment? Time will tell.