A new era in TV sports begins this week when Amazon Prime Video becomes the exclusive home of the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.” Based on the ratings potency of NFL contests, they will likely be the most streamed live events ever. But even as streaming video has become ingrained in the culture, it may still be new to some football fans. Here’s what you need to know before kickoff.
How much will it cost to watch the game?
If you are one of the 80 million homes with an Amazon Prime membership, you already have access to Prime Video and “Thursday Night Football.” If not, you can sign up for a Prime membership at $139 a year or $14.99 a month, which provides Amazon customer benefits that include price discounts and free shipping. Amazon also offers Prime Video memberships for $8.99 a month.
The only other streaming access to the games will be through the NFL’s new service NFL+, which gives you all local and national prime time games starting at $4.99 a month. But the NFL+ app is limited to tablets and mobile phones and will not work with internet-connected televisions.
Which streaming device will work best?
If you can access Prime Video, you can watch the game. But Amazon says devices such as a Roku, Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV player purchased in the last two years are likely to include more of the features provided during the games. Prime customers who have older devices will get a message from Amazon alerting them that they may not have the smoothest experience.
What if I have trouble getting the video to stream?
There are step-by-step instructions on Prime Video’s Live Events Help Hub. If that doesn’t work, users can contact Amazon customer service where help will be available either on a phone call or an online chat.
Local fans are used to seeing NFL games on free TV, even those on cable network ESPN. Will that still be the case with “Thursday Night Football”?
The NFL’s policy of showing games on free TV in the home markets of the two teams playing applies to the Thursday package. The opening matchup featuring the Los Angeles Chargers versus the Kansas City Chiefs will be shown in the Los Angeles TV market on KTTV. The Dec. 8 contest between the Los Angeles Rams and the Las Vegas Raiders is the only other “Thursday Night Football” game that will get a local telecast. Prime Video does not carry the prime time game on Thanksgiving, which will be seen on NBC.
What if I want to watch the game at my local tavern or sports bar?
You can if the location you choose has an internet-connected TV and a Prime Video membership. Amazon has also made a deal with DirecTV to provide a live stream of “Thursday Night Football” at no extra cost to its DirecTV for Business customers. The games will be available to more than 300,000 sports bars, restaurants, retail stores, hotel lounges, casinos and sports books that subscribe to the service.
How much of a delay between the what we see on the stream and the action on the field?
The issue of latency, as it called, has been a priority for Amazon. In 2020, the company purchased Sye, a technology firm that specializes in improving the lag time from live action to what viewers see on the stream. Amazon says the lag time will actually be less than what viewers see on traditional TV.
Will the stream look much different than the NFL games I watch on regular television?
Yes and no. The main stream will feature Al Michaels, who has done NFL prime time games for 36 seasons, joined by Kirk Herbstreit, a veteran of ESPN’s college football coverage Kaylee Hartung will be the sideline reporter.
“My role is to cover it pretty much the way we’ve covered it and maybe try to enhance it with a tweak here and there,” Michaels told The Times in a recent interview.
One of those tweaks are enhanced real-time stats. Tapping the “X-Ray” button on the screen will allow users to go deep into the data related to the game. Other features will be introduced over the course of the season.
But Prime Video will also be offering alternative streams for fans who want a different viewing experience. Dude Perfect, the Texas-based sports comedy troupe with a massive YouTube following, will host four games this season, including this week’s opener. Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm, who did play-by-play in previous years for Prime’s games, return for two contests in a more informal setting. There will also be other guest hosts for alternative streams announced later in the season.
“Thursday Night Football” will also be streamed on Twitch, Amazon’s interactive service aimed at gamers.
Marie Donoghue, vice president of global sports video for Amazon, said the options are a way to provide a “big tent” that welcomes a broad range of viewers. But she promises the company’s approach won’t be gimmicky. “I want the fans to turn it on and say, ‘They respect me they respect the game — let’s see what they’ve got,’” she said.
Are there pregame and postgame shows?
Prime Video will have analysis before and after the game along with a halftime report. Former NFL stars Richard Sherman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tony Gonzales will join host Charissa Thompson on the programs. (Thompson remains the host of “Fox NFL Sunday.”)
Can I record the game?
Prime Video users can record “Thursday Night Football” and have access to recordings of all the games for the entire season. Viewers who join the game in progress and want to catch up quickly can use a “rapid recap” button that will present the highlights of the action up to that point in two minutes. Users can also start the game from the beginning.
Is there a Spanish-language audio feed?
Yes. Prime Video will have Miguel Gurwitz handling play-by-play in Spanish. Rolando Cantú is the analyst and Mayra Gomez will report from the sidelines.
Can I stream the game if I’m traveling internationally?
No. Amazon only has the rights to show the games in the U.S.
Will Amazon try to sell me stuff during the game?
Nothing beyond running commercials, just like any other NFL telecast. There will be an on-screen tab for fans who want to buy NFL merchandise, but it’s up to the user to click on it.
Will I see a lot of promotions for TV shows and movies on Prime Video?
Count on it.