The Amazon Thursday Night Football duo is the only all-woman booth in the NFL. Boardroom peels back the curtain to watch them at work.
As Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook knives his way through the Pittsburgh Steelers defense at U.S. Bank Stadium on Dec. 9 in Minneapolis, Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer are 1,200 miles away at a studio in Midtown Manhattan, calling the action for Amazon’s Prime Video subscribers across 220 countries.
To Storm’s left is spotter and associate producer Ben Bouma. He’s a coveted industry veteran who also works as Steve Levy’s spotter on Monday Night Football and Kenny Albert’s for TNT’s Wednesday night NHL telecasts as part of a whirlwind schedule of jet-lagged absurdity.
Kremer— inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 and a veteran journalist at ESPN, HBO, NBC, CBS, among others— sits to Storm’s right. She’s a SportsCenter anchor and a decades-long veteran host of everything from CBS This Morning to the Thanksgiving Day Parade and ’90s institution, the NBA on NBC.
Editorial director Christene Martin sits to Kremer’s right, and producer Josh Freedenberg sits in the next room over — a key connector to FOX’s production staff, which operates the cameras and directs this TNF telecast. Monitors with all 22 camera angles above the field sit to Storm’s left and Kremer’s right, along with TVs that show live stats.
This has been the general setup as Storm and Kremer call their fourth season of Thursday Night Football on Prime Video, doing games off the monitor as the only all-woman booth in the NFL. They’ll call their final game of the regular season on Saturday when the Cleveland Browns visit the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day.
Storm and Kremer have both had long, decorated careers that have left them with nothing to prove; calling NFL games was a risk neither had to take. Ultimately, getting both of them in the booth was the brainchild of former Amazon exec Jason Weichelt. Kremer said the idea was first introduced to her by her longtime agent, Phil de Picciotto at Octagon.
“I said, I can’t effing do that,” Kremer told Boardroom. “And Phil said, the thing I will not accept is that you can’t do it.”
Kremer and Storm had never worked together, but their paths have crossed numerous times professionally, and Storm’s husband and longtime NBC broadcaster Dan Hicks had worked with Kremer in the past. As the pair got on the phone with Weichelt, they agreed to text each other while the call was taking place.
“The very first thing that Jason says to us on this conference call is ‘this is not a gimmick,'” Kremer said. “And Hannah and I are feverishly texting. That’s a good start. We did a lot of listening. We had a lot of questions. Once it was sort of in place, then it became like, ‘Wow, great. This is exciting. How do we do this?'”
Amazon also didn’t view this as an excuse to get two women on a broadcast for the first time in league history.
“When the idea was initially actually pitched around Amazon, it was pitched for Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer, not for just any two women,” Kremer said. “And if we weren’t gonna take it, there was no plan B. They just weren’t gonna do the feed.”
Storm had some play-by-play experience under her belt. She called games during the first-ever WNBA season in 1997 for NBC, doing her first practice game gearing up for the gig with a young analyst named Doris Burke and receiving valued mentorship from Marv Albert, as well as constant feedback and guidance from Hicks. Storm had also hosted tennis at ESPN, providing coverage for the legendary 2010 Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut that ended up becoming the longest recorded match in the sport’s history.
“I think every bit of that really helps, but doing football play-by-play is a completely different animal,” Storm said.
As NBC’s sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football from 2006-11, Kremer knew Al Michaels and John Madden well and received invaluable advice from the iconic duo.
“Al said to me, 90% of the analysts use all this football lingo and don’t really know what they’re talking about,” Kremer said. “And 99% of the audience doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but they think it sounds really cool. So I made a commitment year one, that if I can’t explain something, I shouldn’t be using the language.”
Madden called Kremer two days before her first broadcast.
“He says to me, ‘oh my God, this is so amazing. I’m so proud of you. How are you feeling?’” Kremer said. “And I go, ‘I’m pretty nervous coach.’ And John Madden says to me, ‘don’t feel like you have to cram for the test. You’ve been preparing for this your whole career.’ That took down my anxiety levels from like 100 to 60. Hearing that from Coach Madden was pretty meaningful to me.”
At halftime of the first game, they both knew things were going to work out. There have been plenty of challenges along the way, especially balancing their hectic schedules. Storm still anchors SportsCenter from Sunday through Wednesday, and Kremer still works as a reporter for NFL Network, is a founding member of CBS’s We Need To Talk, and hosts Tales from the Vault, a podcast for NFL Films’ iHeart Radio series. But during the season, both prioritize TNF to get their preparation done and be ready for an unforgiving three-hour broadcast.
“I’m always over-prepared because that’s the way I’m relaxed,” Storm said. “I’d rather just have everything, even down to the little details. Then I’m super chill.”
The two have developed their own unique bond and rapport by being themselves, not by trying to cosplay as the women analogues to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Their main goal is to make people feel like they’re hanging out and watching the game with two people having fun and being additive to their football viewing experience. That approach has helped Storm out a lot over the last four years, because calling games from a monitor with no control over the replays or camera angles is a lot harder than it looks.
When calling games remotely became the norm during the pandemic, Storm and Kremer had the advantage of years of experience in doing it. Suddenly, Storm said, they were ahead of the curve.
“We had people calling us last year for tips, how ironic is that?” Kremer said. “It’s not ideal, but you gotta play within the rules that you’re given. I live in a world of no problems, only solutions. What-ifs are wasted energy for me.”
The prevalence of Zoom and other video calls during the pandemic have helped Kremer and Storm immensely in their game prep.
“It made our conversations so much different and so much more meaningful, fun and interactive when you can see people and see their reactions and really have a conversation with them,” Storm said. “Body language is a lot. It’s huge. And also you could see people in their atmosphere, you know what I mean? You could see Derek Carr in his home office. Or this year, Tom Brady was driving home. We talked to him for 45 minutes on his ride home. He was talking and we’re like ‘don’t look at the screen!’ But he loves to chat. He’s very chatty.”
Of all the games the two have called together over the years, one stands out to Storm. After spending Christmas Eve with her family last year, she got to call the Christmas Day game between the Vikings and New Orleans Saints where Alvin Kamara tied the NFL record with six touchdowns.
“I was not looking forward to working on Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday,” she said. “And Alvin Kamara shows up in his red Christmas cleats and has a performance for the ages. It was like a little Christmas fairy dust was sprinkled all over his performance. It was so fun to watch. It was so joyful. It was so magical.”
Kremer definitely loved the Kamara performance, along with Derrick Henry’s 99-yard TD run for the Tennessee Titans in 2018 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and a couple of classics between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. But she’ll most-fondly remember getting to call a playoff game last season: the Saints’ wild card weekend win over the Chicago Bears.
“It’s a really amazing opportunity because you’re no different than the players in that you wanna get to the playoffs,” Kremer said.
The two personalities have meshed over the four years, with Storm injecting her love of music and her alma mater Notre Dame into the broadcasts.. After calling games six days of the week last season due to the pandemic, including broadcasts two days in a row, Storm said she feels like this season is, for some reason, her easiest. The pair will call another wild card game this season before Amazon takes over exclusive TNF rights next season.
“We bring our personalities in, while also tapping into what has made us successful throughout our careers,” Kremer said.” I think bottom line, we complement each other. We try to have fun and try to really bring our best selves to the broadcast.”
And for the first all-woman broadcast team in NFL history, bringing their best selves is what Amazon and fans around the world have always asked for.