Amazon Prime delivers NFL Thursday Night Football starting tonight

Amazon is ready to stream 11 TNF games on their Prime Video platform

In this edition of Stream On I talk with two award-winning sports writers Joe Henderson who spent over 40 years covering sports for the Tampa Tribune and took home over a dozen Sports Writer of the Year honors. Also joining the conversation is Tim Williams a Boston based sportswriter and broadcaster who has won awards for his coverage of the New England Patriots, Red Sox, and college hockey. He is also our resident millennial and gives us insight from a younger perspective.  

In one of the most important moves in streaming video history, tonight Amazon Prime Video will air their first of 11 NFL broadcasts when the Chicago Bears visit the Green Bay Packers at 8 p.m. ET. The new deal to carry NFL Thursday Night Football was won by Amazon, back in April when they outbid rivals Facebook and Twitter, paying the league a reported $50 million for one year’s right to be the exclusive home to the package.

Tonight’s Bears-Packers game will air live nationally on both CBS and the NFL Network. The broadcast crew from CBS will handle the telecast duties with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, calling the action.

Part of the Amazon pitch to the NFL was that they would make the games available to their Prime Video members in more than 200 countries and territories (excluding China, where Amazon hasn’t launched video) — a global reach that Amazon execs say was critical for the NFL. “There aren’t many companies that can deliver a worldwide live event like this,” says Jim DeLorenzo, head of sports for Amazon Video told Variety.

Having access to the NFL is just piece of a very large content play by Amazon. The Prime Video service has committed to spending around an estimated $.5 billion on producing television shows and movies that will be exclusive to Amazon worldwide. The goal is a simple one; they want to drive up Amazon Prime membership’s that netted the company a cool $136 billion in sales in 2016.

This for Amazon is just another chance to expand its brand and it is a very smart move. Want a snack or maybe dinner before you watch Thursday Night Football? No problem, just take out your phone and go to the app and order from one of the many Amazon Restaurants choices. Planning a party for the game again soon there will be a Whole Food component to this package.

Streaming the games gives them access to the NFL and more importantly, since anyone under the age of 35 shops via Amazon, loves the streaming video and is just as apt to watch NFL Thursday Night Football on Prime Video as they are CBS or the NFL Network.

This is a good play for Amazon and just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how we watch sports in the future. Look for Facebook, Twitter, Google/YouTube, Apple and other streaming services to grab more live sports content in the very near future.



Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.