Thursday night’s Final Fox game generates a total audience of 18.0 million people; what will Amazon do?
On Thursday night, Fox broadcast its final Thursday night game. And the NFL may have enjoyed a massive audience Thursday night for the last time, in quite some time.
According to the NFL, Chiefs-Chargers Week 15 game generated an average audience of 18.0 million across all platforms including Fox, NFL Network, Fox Deportes, Fox Sports digital, Fox Deportes, Amazon Prime Video, Twice and Yahoo Sports mobile properties.
Next year, the main delivery device of Thursday night football becomes Amazon Prime Video. No fox. No NFL network.
The question is whether Amazon Prime will attract an audience similar to the one Fox generates. The safe bet, at least at the start, is that it won’t. When it comes to NFL games, broadcast networks continue to attract a live audience like no other. Millions of people still depend on the free live signals that are captured by modern rabbit ear antennas. While millions of people now have Amazon Prime, how many of those who would watch a game on Fox (or, before that, NBC and CBS) are not paying and will not pay the annual fee to see NFL games live on Thursday? evening ?
Amazon will pay a premium so it can force Americans to change their ways. This is really the point. Although the games are televised through free affiliates in local markets, most fans will see TNF only with Prime. How many of those who don’t have Prime yet will get Prime to watch the games?
Basically, Amazon is hoping to speed up the transition from traditional TV to streaming. If one property can help achieve this, it’s the NFL.
This may take some time. And that could be a challenge. As the audience continues to fracture, it will become more difficult to bring them together simultaneously for a live televised event. But if anything can do it, it’s the NFL.
This is what Amazon pays for. And with the traditional television model counting down, that’s why the NFL is poised to take a short-term hit in the number of people consuming live games. If the NFL can take the streaming phenomenon to and beyond critical mass, the NFL will prove its worth as the world continues to shift from cable and satellite to streaming.