Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” Strategy and Plan – The Hollywood Reporter

On Thursday, Amazon.com’s homepage and mobile apps were transformed into a vibrant video ad. Thursday Night Footballreminding the company’s millions of customers that the NFL is entering a new era and that Amazon is at the center of it.

The tech giant will launch the first season Thursday Night Football tonight’s game, with high expectations and significant ramifications.

As the NFL’s first exclusive national streaming rights deal, TNF could pave the way for other future deals, and with the company relying on the internet’s ability to recombine and personalize content, the viewership experience could be very different from other NFL leagues… if viewers want.

“NFL fans have a very clear expectation when they turn on the television,” says TNF executive producer Fred Gaudelli, told reporters during a recent press conference. “When it comes to critical times, I think their expectations are even higher. If you don’t come with a real quality show, they probably won’t come back. We’ve seen, ‘Hey, try this, try that,’ for years and nothing really stuck. Even on Sunday night [NBC Sunday Night Football, where Gaudelli served as ep for years]We’ve tried a few things, but you have to start with a high level of production with great announcers and audiences that will come because it’s the National Football League. “

“Although it’s a different platform, one thing I think you can count on is that we’re not going to reinvent the wheel,” said Al Michaels, who is serving as the lead announcer for the show. TNF with analyst Kirk Herbstreit. “We will play games. People will be watching the games, and we’re not going to do anything crazy. “

That is no small challenge. The NFL is the most popular show on TV by a wide margin, and if Amazon can scale up its streaming, it could change the way leagues approach partnerships, which have long relied on games. their broadcast partner and ESPN. But the company needs to deliver a quality product that meets the expectations of fans and the tournament.

The TNF Last month’s pre-season game averaged just over 1 million viewers, but the regular season’s game will be a sign of Amazon’s ability to grow viewership. Amazon has signed an agreement with Nielsen to measure TV channels, including local broadcasts that will air on TV stations in the home market.

Marie Donoghue, Amazon’s sports video vp, said: “It may not happen overnight, but we really think fans will come to this broadcast. “And if we serve them the best we know how, they will come and I’m sure other rights holders will notice. That’s what we’ve seen in the past with what we’ve done in Europe, what we’ve done with the EPL and Champions League, what we’ve done in the US with TNF in our TriCast transaction. So we’re keeping it pretty simple, the best broadcast possible and good things will follow. “

Thus, Amazon’s homepage and apps take over, not to mention TNF The logo is embroidered on millions of Amazon boxes that are shipped around the country every day. And of course Amazon’s reach will also be combined with a more traditional marketing scheme.

According to a source in the advertising community, Amazon has told its advertising partners that it expects a viewership of about 12.5 million during its opening season.

The company is expected to use first-party data and interactive ad formats to help drive revenue for games it is paying over $1 billion a year.

But one also bets that their own procurement expertise can prove their selling power. Earlier this week, Amazon launched a TNF mall with discounts on NFL-branded merchandise, as well as on Amazon Echo devices.

And the company is leaning on the interactive nature of the internet, with many alternative broadcasts planned (including the Dude Perfect TV show to accompany a week’s game) and X-tech Amazon’s signature ray.

“I think the big difference is going to be all the other things that you can access while streaming a game that you can’t actually access while watching on television,” Gaudelli said. “Whether it’s alternative feeds, whether it’s predictive and likelihood statistics, whether it’s checking your own replays when you want to see them, that’s where I think you’ll go. get a richer viewing experience Thursday Night Football on Prime Video. ”

But when I heard Amazon’s team talk about it, sports streaming was inevitable and TNF just the tip of the spear.

“Consumption trends are working in our favor,” said Donoghue. “We’ve seen these types of transitions before, broadcast to cable and entertainment to streaming. These things take time, but they will happen and are inevitable if we serve our fans better. So we’re really excited to be a part of it and hope to lead that transition.”

The big question, the big hope, for the NFL and Amazon, is whether they can bring the traditionalists who used to use Fox or CBS or NBC on their TVs to stream video. Business antennas or cable boxes for Roku or Amazon Fire sticks.

“Not too long ago, I didn’t know what streaming was, and neither did many of us,” Michaels said. “I find it amazing that all my friends, kids and grandchildren think this is the best thing in the world.”

“I said to someone, ‘They think we’re going to the Rockies in a covered wagon.’ I said, ‘We’re going to the Rockies by broadband.’ So we are pioneers,” added Michaels.

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