Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ taps youth market for NFL

Amazon is delivering on its promise to bring younger viewers to the NFL.

Nielsen data for the first four Thursday Night Football competitions on the tech giant’s streaming platform Prime Video shows they attract a larger percentage of 18-34 year olds than NFL games shown on traditional television.

Prime Video brings “Thursday Night Football,” the first time an NFL game pack has been exclusively available on a streaming platform. While younger viewers flock to streaming for video entertainment, most NFL games run on traditional television, where they still attract huge audiences that dwarf those for other programming.

But the trend away from pay-TV subscriptions — which pay for much of the $9 billion a year networks shell out to the NFL for new media rights — continues.

Pay-TV households fell by 6.1% in the third quarter of 2022, according to a new report by MoffettNathanson. According to the report, 42% of video streaming households do not have a pay TV subscription.

As traditional television audiences grow older and smaller, sports leagues are expected to continue more competitions on streaming platforms to replenish their fan bases. The first numbers for “Thursday Night Football” show why.

Over four weeks, “Thursday Night Football” averaged 11.26 million total viewers, up 11% from the same period last year when the games aired on Fox, the NFL Network and Prime Video.

The increases are much higher in the younger demographics coveted by advertisers who buy airtime on Thursday Night Football. In the 18-34 age group, the games have an average of 2.6 million viewers, 67% more than last year.

Viewers ages 18 to 34 make up 24% of Thursday Night Football viewers, compared to 14% of NFL television viewers.

The median age of Thursday Night Football streaming viewers is 46, eight years younger than the median age of NFL fans watching games on TV.

“It’s not surprising, but at the same time we’re thrilled,” said Jay Marine, Prime Video’s global head of sports, of the early ratings. “That was a big reason why the NFL chose us as a partner. If you’re a sports league, younger viewers are your future.”

(Nielsen ratings for “Thursday Night Football” include viewers watching the markets of the two teams playing on broadcast television. The national ads for these games are the same as those on the Amazon stream.)

While the games broadcast system may be new to many fans, the viewing experience is consistent with the way sports have long been viewed. Marine said more than half of Prime Video audiences are watching on an internet-connected TV rather than a tablet, phone or laptop.

“Television is really where people want to sit down and watch big, premium sports,” Marine said. “People think that streaming means you have to watch on a small phone. We’re past that.”

Marine acknowledged that the data on younger audiences will be “very helpful” for Prime Video going forward as it tracks other sports media rights that become available.

“All the leagues have noticed,” Marine said. “The response was very positive.”

The next NFL feature up for grabs is the Sunday Ticket package, which offers subscription viewers television shows not available in the market. DirecTV abandons the package, and both Amazon and Apple are said to be contenders to pick it up.

Nielsen data shows that post-Thursday Night Football post-game shows have similar youth appeal. The 18-34 age group accounts for 26% of the 3.98 million viewers watching the season so far, a higher percentage than the audiences of the post-game shows that watch ESPN’s Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football” to follow. on NBC.

Marine credits the performance of the post-game shows to analysts Richard Sherman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and former Los Angeles Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth, all fresh from their NFL careers.

Prime Video has provided a mix of newcomers and veterans in its TV shows. Veterans Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will helm the play-by-play show. Tony Gonzalez, a former NFL star and Fox Sports analyst, sits alongside Sherman and Fitzpatrick on the pre- and post-game shows. Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ taps youth market for NFL

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