From alternate streaming broadcasts to X-Ray stats to making team-centric purchases during a game, Amazon is set to offer a unique experience for Thursday Night Football.
Amazon is now an exclusive NFL media rights holder, beginning an 11-year deal at $1 billion per year to broadcast Thursday Night Football on Prime Video. It’s the first streaming-only rights agreement in league history, one that could provide a glimpse into how pro sports games are watched in the future.
But right now, Amazon is focused on making sure that fans across the U.S. with a Prime membership can watch some of the best NFL games each week. Boardroom was given a presentation in late August, walking through how to watch TNF, how to find the games within the Prime Video app, and a number of the new features Amazon is making available.
Amazon knew it needed to nail down two things right away.
First, it had to make it as easy as possible for people switching over from linear to streaming to find the game each Thursday night. The second was making sure the broadcast is high quality with minimal buffering and latency as low as if you were watching a game on CBS, Fox, NBC, or ESPN.
All the bells and whistles will be secondary to those two core things, but they’ll be laid out in this guide as well.
Finding The Game
The first step is by getting into the Prime Video app, which Amazon said it’s worked on over the last 5-10 years to get on every possible connected device. Within the last year in the U.S., the company said that 80 million active members have watched Prime Video at least once.
There’s going to be a huge primary call to action on the app homepage with a giant “watch” button. Customers will then be asked how they want to watch the game — either watching live or from the beginning. All Prime users will be given the option to record games via an opt-in pop-up ad. By clicking one button, Amazon will automatically record every pregame, game, and postgame for every TNF feed for the entire season.
Users will also have the ability to rewatch everything until the beginning of the 2023 NFL regular season. Even if one doesn’t record, the ability to rewind 15 minutes from any point during the live game will be available to users.
On Amazon.com, there will also be heavy promotion above the fold on the homepage, including a countdown timer leading into the games every Thursday. When the games kick off, Prime users who are signed in will have the game broadcast automatically play on the home landing page. They can then click to go into full-screen mode on their web browser of choice. People who aren’t Prime subscribers can click on the game and get a prompt for a free 30-day trial.
For Fire TV users, the game will autoplay on the spot on the homepage normally devoted to promotional placement for various new available content offerings. Clicking on the game would bring them directly into the action without even having to click on the Prime Video app. There will also be a lot of advertising and promotion within Roku, Comcast sets, and other platforms where people like to stream. There will even be Amazon delivery vans and wrapping on physical Amazon delivery boxes promoting the slate of TNF games.
Amazon TNF Features
Just like the Thursday Night Football tri-casts Amazon shared with Fox and the NFL Network in recent years, Amazon will be offering alternate broadcast options to the regular Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit, and Kaylee Hartung feed. Those include a Spanish language version, Dude Perfect, and the duo of Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer, among others to be announced.
To switch between these feeds, once they’re in the game, one can pull up the player chrome or the scrubber bar, click down to view a specific broadcast, or click up to view the stats on X-Ray. On mobile, swipe up to see the broadcast and when you click down, a carousel will appear that will give you different feed options. If you’re watching a game and are behind the live broadcast and want to switch feeds, it’ll make sure you’re at the same point in that particular game when doing so.
Amazon’s X-Ray functionality for movies and TV shows, where you can press pause on your device and see which actors are in that scene along with other facts and trivia, will continue to extend to TNF. X-Ray is available on web browsers, iOS, Android, and Fire TV devices.
Once you open X-Ray during a game, it will land you on the stats tab, where there will be real-time updates, replays, and other goodies. There will also be NextGen Stats from AWS available on X-Ray, where you can see things like the speed a player ran on a particular play or a catch percentage for an amazing reception.
Jumping to the plays tab will not only provide the play-by-play during the game as it happens but also a route tree if you click into a particular set. It’ll also display on-demand replay highlights for roughly 10-15 key moments, where the player who has the ball will have a spotlight on him, along with corresponding Next Gen stats such as the time it took for the quarterback to throw a pass or yards of separation for a receiver. Once those replays are done, you’ll automatically be brought back to live game action.
If you’re on a Fire TV device, going into the shop tab will allow fans to buy gear from the two participating teams from Amazon, in case you were unsure that Amazon sells things. Also on Fire TVs and Echo Show devices, pushing the Alexa button and saying “play Thursday Night Football” will get you into the live game.
Other X-Ray capabilities will also be available via Alexa, including “play the last touchdown,” “Alexa, show me X-ray stats” or “Alexa, who has the most passing yards today?” Fans can also say “Alexa, add Thursday Night Football to my watchlist,” and every TNF game this season will automatically get added to your watchlist and get recorded. “Alexa, follow the Kansas City Chiefs” or any other NFL team will get that team’s schedule, scores, and news via notification to your Alexa device or mobile app.
As Amazon begins its 11-year contract as the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football, other features and alternative feeds will be added over time. But for now, it’s focused on the basics so the first regular-season package to only live on streaming can be as seamless a process as possible.