For the last six days, the sports media world collectively wondered where, oh where were Amazon's Thursday Night Football ratings? They were quietly promised on Monday but did not arrive. By Tuesday, eyebrows were raised around the industry. On Wednesday, Nielsen released the ratings for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral and still we did not have Amazon Prime ratings. Amazon themselves dropped a Rings Of Power ratings release. All this was unusual because it simply does not take that long for Amazon to internally figure out how many people watched the game.
On Thursday morning, the media nerds finally won. Nielsen announced 13 million people had viewed Chiefs-Chargers last week. Amazon said their internal calculations suggested closer to 15 million people had tuned in. As John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal notes, the numbers include the local, traditional broadcast viewership in Kansas City and Los Angeles.
Those are pretty good numbers! The conspiracy theories were flying wild after Amazon didn't release the numbers earlier this week. So after all the hubbub the viewership was acceptable and even above the 12.5 million number Amazon reportedly promised advertisers ahead of the game. A win, through and through.
Now, time for caveats. We don't know for sure how the breakdown went between people actually watching on Amazon and people watching on TV like they always do. The former is obviously more indicative of how likely the bet to put football on streaming is to pay off. For that same reason we know the overall numbers were boosted big-time by the Kansas City local broadcast because they're one of the top viewership-boosting fan bases in the league.
Broadly speaking, Amazon might have trouble topping 13 million or 15 million viewers going forward. There was a novelty to checking out TNF on Amazon Prime in its first week of existence that no longer exists. Matters were also helped by the matchup; Chiefs-Chargers is a great game and was competitive for nearly the entire duration. There will be a lot of people who decline to tune in tonight because Steelers-Browns isn't nearly as enticing as Chiefs-Chargers, and the novelty wearing off in the long run will erode the viewership.
On the other hand, getting above the 10-million mark is pretty damn impressive for the first-ever NFL game exclusively on streaming. For all the concerns about the older football-viewing population's ability to figure out Prime and all the initial issues that arose with the broadcast, Amazon still clocked good numbers and the presentation can only improve from this point. A win in nearly every regard.