Amazon Gets NFL Streaming Win With 13 Million Viewers in Debut
Amazon.com Inc.'s first regular-season NFL broadcast drew 13 million viewers to its streaming service, delivering an online audience that rivals traditional TV.
The total, reported by Nielsen, was up 47% from last season's week 2 Thursday night game, which aired only on the NFL Network, and it was more than the 12.6 million viewers Amazon is guaranteeing that advertisers will reach.
But it also fell short of the average of 16.4 million viewers who watched Thursday NFL games last year, which included coverage on the Fox broadcast network, and it was down from the nearly 22 million who saw the opening game of this NFL season on NBC and its streaming platforms.
The Sept. 15 game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs marked the debut of an 11-year, $13 billion deal that makes Amazon the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football. ” The early audience numbers should ease one of the big questions about that deal: whether fans would be able to find the games on Prime Video instead of TV.
Amazon said it had a bigger audience than what Nielsen reported. The game averaged 15.3 million viewers across all platforms, based on a combination of the company's own first-party measurement and Nielsen data, a spokesperson said.
In a Sept. 19 memo to staff, Amazon sports chief Jay Marine said the program was the streaming service's most-watched show ever in prime time in the US. The company also attracted a record number of new Prime subscribers for a three-hour period. The Prime service includes benefits such as music, TV and free shipping.
“Our measurement shows that the audience numbers exceeded all of our expectations for viewership,” Marine said in the memo.
Amazon's games are also available on TV stations in the competing teams' local markets, and the total viewership number includes those fans. Local broadcasts averaged 602,000 viewers in Los Angeles and 555,000 in Kansas City, according to Nielsen.
Amazon struck a deal with DirecTV so the games would still be available in bars and restaurants.