Amazons Thursday Night Football Debut Did Better Than Everyone Thought

Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” debut performed better in ratings than you might assume, given the online griping.

The game averaged 13 million total viewers, according to Nielsen’s national TV ratings. Add in Amazon’s own first-party measurement metrics if you’d like, and that number grows to 15.3 million viewers across multiple platforms. That’s a win as Amazon guaranteed advertisers 12.6 million viewers, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told IndieWire.

Even the Nielsen-only tally is 47 percent better than last year’s Week 2 “Thursday Night Football” game, which aired solely on the NFL Network. (Except in local markets, which is significant here because the New York Giants were one of the participating teams; Washington was their opponent.)

It helped, of course, that Prime Video’s exclusive debut was a tight game — but so was the September 16, 2021 Giants vs. Commanders contest, which ended as a one-point affair in D.C.’s favor. This year, the Kansas City Chiefs outlasted the Los Angeles Chargers, 27-24. The AFC West matchup averaged a 5.0 rating among adults 18-49, which was 9 percent better than last year’s full-season average across numerous networks.

The “Thursday Night Football” premiere was, by a large margin, watched much more than any broadcast or cable TV show that evening. “Young Sheldon” on CBS was No. 2, with *just* 3.5 million total viewers. So even just going Nielsen to Nielsen, we’re talking about an advantage of nearly 10 million viewers.

Not only were viewers aplenty, they were also younger than usual. “Thursday Night Football” on Prime Video delivered an audience six years younger than the linear NFL audience through Week 2 of the 2022 season (media age 47 vs. 53), according to Amazon. The audience was seven years younger than last year’s average “TNF” audience (median age 54, tri-cast on Fox, NFL Network and Prime Video).

Here’s how Amazon describes its own first-party measurement, which accounted for an *extra* 2.3 million viewers in this case: “Amazon aggregates direct-viewing data from the millions of devices and accounts watching in order to provide a clear and comprehensive understanding of viewership across Amazon’s channels.” The company then adds in Nielsen numbers to get to its own grand total.

Ahead of the release of these numbers, Jay Marine, the global head of sports for Prime Video, sent the below to employees via email. IndieWire obtained a copy of the memo (the bolding is his).

On Thursday night, we made history by delivering the first regular season game in our groundbreaking 11-year agreement with the NFL. And by every measure, “Thursday Night Football” on Prime Video was a resounding success. From the stellar production of the game, to the quality of the stream customers watched at home, Prime Video proved we are among the very best in sports media. 

To put it in context, let me share some of the results. Our first exclusive TNF broadcast delivered the most watched night of primetime in the U.S. in the history of Prime Video. This is a massive achievement. During our TNF broadcast, we also saw the biggest three hours for U.S. Prime sign ups ever in the history of Amazon – including Prime Day, Cyber Monday, and Black Friday. And while we’re still waiting for official Nielsen ratings, our measurement shows that the audience numbers exceeded all of our expectations for viewership. This was also a huge technical achievement – our tech and product teams rose to the challenge and delivered a fantastic streaming experience to our millions of viewers.

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