Amazon’s 11-year, $1 billion bet on Thursday Night Football got off to a strong start.
The company says last week’s game brought in more Prime sign-ups in three hours than any other day in its history, including Cyber Monday, Black Friday or Prime Day. Beyond that, the game saw a record primetime audience for the service in the U.S. The question is: Will those viewers be back?
Some 13.2 million people watched the streaming service’s premiere broadcast, which was a nail biter between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. This week, the Steelers and Browns will take center stage.
Amazon broadcasts of the games are a bit different than what you might have seen on other networks. Week two of the NFL brought in mixed ratings, though, so this week could be a test of whether Amazon’s formula is working.
Here’s a look at how to watch and what to expect from Thursday night games tonight and moving forward.
Which NFL teams are playing on Thursdays this season?
It’s a Midwest match-up this week. Here’s who’s playing when, with a reminder that the home team is listed second.
Thursday, Sept. 22
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Sept. 29
Miami Dolphins vs Cincinnati Bengals, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Oct. 6
Baltimore Colts vs Denver Broncos, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Oct. 13
Washington Commanders vs Chicago Bears, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Oct. 20
New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Oct. 27
Baltimore Ravens vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Nov. 3
Philadelphia Eagles vs Houston Texans, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Nov. 10
Atlanta Falcons vs Charlotte Panthers, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Nov. 17
Tennessee Titans vs Green Bay Packers, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Nov. 24
New England Patriots vs Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
Thursday, Dec. 1
Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Dec. 8
Las Vegas Raiders vs Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Dec. 15
San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Dec. 22
Jacksonville Jaguars vs New York Jets, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Thursday, Dec. 29
Dallas Cowboys vs Tennessee Titans, 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
Can I watch NFL Thursday night games for free on broadcast television?
It really comes down to where you live and who’s playing. If you’re in the home town of one of the two teams that are playing on any particular Thursday, you’ll likely have an opportunity to watch, even if you don’t have an Amazon Prime account. Simulcasts will be offered on broadcast networks, letting you watch for free with a good HD antenna.
But if you’re outside of the range of those stations, streaming is your only option.
Can I stream NFL Thursday night games live online if I don’t have an Amazon Prime account?
No. While there are generally several streaming options on Sunday or Monday, Amazon has exclusivity to these games, preventing other streaming services from carrying them. The only exception will be on Thanksgiving night, when NBC will carry the game.
What changes will Amazon bring to the NFL games it airs?
The streaming audience might be a bit different than the traditional broadcast one, so Amazon offers a few twists for viewers, while still keeping things familiar.
For instance, it overlays stats and game updates using its “X-Ray” technology, much like it offers information on which actors are in a scene during a film or TV show. An alternate stream will also be made for younger audiences, with the YouTube troop Dude Perfect replacing the standard play-by-play and color commentary team.
Who is Amazon’s broadcast team?
Amazon has hired some of the most recognizable announcers and commentators as it jumps into the NFL. Al Michaels, who has called both Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football, will lead the team. Kirk Herbstreit, who has focused mainly on college games and been a key player on ESPN’s “College GameDay” program, will be the color commentator. And All-Pro players Richard Sherman and Tony Gonzalez will be analysts, alongside former Los Angeles Ram Andrew Whitworth and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played with nine teams during his career.
Will I be able to watch Thursday Night Football at my favorite bar or restaurant?
Yes. Amazon struck a deal with DirecTV that will allow over 300,000 bars and restaurants round the country to air the game
Does the NFL offer any viewing packages to watch the Thursday night games?
Kind of. The NFL App will let you stream games that are being broadcast locally in your market as well as any played in prime time.
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