Don’t Tell Your Dad: Streaming Thursday Night Football on Amazon is Your Only Option

America’s biggest brand executed a major move this past Thursday. Amazon hosted the NFL’s very first all-digitally packaged Thursday Night Football game. 

Yes, prime time (pardon the pun), all of America watching (well, streaming) and Amazon bagged the deal. In fact, Amazon bagged the next 11 years of Thursday Night Football.

Which brand do I mean when I wrote, ‘America’s biggest brand’? That’s the point. There’s a lot to unpack here. 

Do me a favor. Sit back, relax, and get ready for the show. Almost like the viewers last Thursday did — if you had high-speed internet.  

E-commerce, tech-giant and…sports giant?

Amazon is a weird company. Amazon is also incomprehensively big — and complex — with billion-dollar revenue streams in web services, advertising, and of course, e-commerce. Yeah, I know I am not breaking news here, but the context does matter. 

Amazon is already firmly implanted into your everyday life. You have almost definitely bought something off of Amazon at this point. You probably even have with a Prime membership. 

Here’s the problem: when you get as huge as Amazon, you run out of places to grow and delight your shareholders. 

So Amazon had a choice. Do they lean into the tech dogma, wear weird Steve Jobs glasses and turtlenecks, and embrace innovation and market monopoly in every service they provide? Or do they pivot to everyday approachability? 

Apple…or the NFL? 

The billion-dollar deal with the NFL is their answer, at least in part. 14.1 million Americans watched Thursday Night Football in 2020. Those rates, if you apply them to the next 11 years, plant Amazon firmly in your living room, right next to their empty boxes. And your parents living room if you helped them find the Prime Video App. 

Gonna take more than the griddy

 Cutscene – insert the NFL.

Roger Goodell is many things — but a good NFL Commissioner? Probably not. Yet the Amazon deal does address a major concern in NFL viewership. How do we get younger viewers to watch football? 

Younger viewers—ages 34 and below—are among the least likely age cohorts to watch football (unless you are counting 65+, which I mean come on give me a break, could you imagine the targeted marketing for that?). 

Streaming seems to be the obvious choice. Amazon streaming? That makes sense, too, if you're Roger Goodell, an out-of-touch NFL exec making a bazillion dollars a year. 

Roger being Roger, he naturally failed to understand the nuanced differences of streaming platforms and how they fight for a piece of the market through leveraging unique services for American viewers. Like these:

          HBO Max = Game of Thrones

          Netflix = Stranger Things

          Hulu = Handmaids Tale

Amazon Prime = Thursday Night Football?

You see what I am saying? Amazon won’t have editorial authority over TNF, so what's the angle? 

Okay, gloves off now. 

Streaming is CROWDED. Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Discovery+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and of course Peacock (who is only relevant because they have the Office) — those are just the big players. 

Also, can we all agree adding a plus to your service at this point…is getting ridiculous?

Now we're asking NFL viewers, good hard working Americans who just want to relax and watch super-athletes run 30 miles an hour and slam into each other, to do what exactly? Oh right, download another app, and stream just one singular game, one night a week, for 16 weeks out of the year

The scale of it all is annoying. And yet…Amazon’s deal with TNF is savvy, albeit annoying, business.

Streaming is the future. Aggravatingly enough, so is Amazon, probably. 

Amazon wins on this deal. BIG time. When 14 million users have to navigate to their app every Thursday to get their NFL fix…that’s a big win. 

Also, a billion dollars per year out of Amazon’s pocket is the equivalent of me buying yet another Chipotle burrito. I just swipe and indulge. Yeah, I know queso is extra, I’m here weekly. 

Focus…back to branding, give the people what they want: Amazon’s move into the NFL will be one in which we can point back to and say, “that was a defining moment.” 

Amazon will continue to Amazon. 

Amazon’s future is fairly predictable. They will continue to build giant web service infrastructures and elbow rub with the federal government just like you would think a opportunistic tech company would. 

They will also provide an amazing ecommerce service that gets consumers what they want, and producers the market they crave, with unprecedented convenience and shamelessly strict labor procedures

Amazon will be case study numero uno for brand identity and marketing. How they manage scale and identity across massive, seemingly unconnected markets and areas of operation will provide new insight to all of us. Buckle up. 

Streaming on your phone, or hardline cable. We’ll still be here for ya.

We love football, and all things controversial. When it's 4th and inches — and you need someone to come through for you in the clutch — Yonder’s got your blind side. 

The Yonder Team is dedicated to keeping an open dialogue with you – our readers. If you have anything you’d like to add, reach out, we’d love to hear from you. 

Click here and book a call to learn more. 


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