With the weight of the world on its shoulders, Amazon’s first exclusive thursday night football stream is still standing. For the moment.
Amazon kicked off its new streaming package for TNF games on Thursday, featuring a preseason game between the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers. The game itself was a miss (Houston won 17-0, both teams kept their best starters on the bench), but Amazon still passed the most important test of all: delivering a high-quality stream.
We’ll have to wait and see if that holds up during the premiere. real Amazon TNF Match on September 15, but on the face of it this is a professional show that should make football fans feel right at home.
How is Amazon’s NFL Stream different?
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Starting with a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers on September 15, every Thursday Night game this season (and for the next 10 seasons) will be exclusive to Prime Video or Twitch. You can still catch it live if you live in one of both teams’ local markets, but if not, you need to stream those games through Amazon in the future. It’s not hard to find; start Prime Video on a Thursday night and it’ll be the first thing you’ll see.
Amazon tries new things as it gets exclusive rights to a primetime game every week, but unfortunately I couldn’t test many of the coolest new features during this pre-show game. -season. One of the main ones I wanted to try was the ability to display the X-Ray view that Prime Video users are no doubt familiar with. When watching a TV show or movie, X-Ray lets you see which actors are in the scene you’re watching and dig deeper into their career insights. It’s perfect for those “oh wait, I know this guy!” moments.
For football, X-Ray will perform a totally different function. You will be able to see game stats as they update in real time, so if you need any of the quarterbacks to play well for your fantasy team, you can check their stats using X -Ray during the game. It’s something I’ll definitely use once it’s activated for regular season TNF games, but in the 49ers-Texans game it wasn’t operational yet, at least not on the Chromecast device I was using.
Amazon is also experimenting with alternative shows, but again, those will have to wait until the regular season. The guys from the stunt-focused YouTube channel Perfect man will host an alternate stream where they’ll try stunts and the like while commenting on the action of the game, in case you don’t like the traditional broadcast football banter. Sadly, this wasn’t in effect during the pre-season game, so I can’t comment on how well it works or how entertaining it is yet.
How does it compare to actual television?
The NFL commissioner isn’t normally on the show, but the two guys on the left are.
Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Amazon
Although it will be a few weeks before I can test the foreign features of Amazon TNF, the Thursday night stream responded with far The most important question I had during this season: what will the stream be like?
If Thursday’s game was any indication, it will be fine. Broadcast sports via official apps can be a bit problematic because many, many streams are locked to 30Hz playback. Without getting too technical, this basically means that the footage isn’t as smooth as it would be if you watched it on regular TV, where it would be at 60Hz. Watch game highlights on the official NFL YouTube channel (where the videos go up to 30Hz) and you’ll notice it looks Wrong compared to a TV show.
Not so with Amazon’s Thursday Night Football stream. It buffers up to a nice smooth, crisp 60Hz within seconds of turning on the stream. I won’t say it looks exactly like on TV, but it’s close enough that the few moments of minor stuttering I noticed didn’t spoil the experience for me. I don’t have the ability to count the resolution accurately, but it look at as if streaming at 1080p, which Amazon says is the target resolution for these streams.
Simply put, it feels like a TV show enough to make me happy. I’ll need a full season to really fit into the new broadcast team, which includes legendary announcer Al Michaels and longtime college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit in the booth. But those are the two voices I’ve listened to for many, many hours over the years, so the familiarity was comforting during an otherwise new streaming experience.
That’s true of all production, really. Everything from the pre-game show with player interviews to the in-game graphics and highlight packages was very professional and traditional. Amazon isn’t reinventing the wheel here; while the company produces the games themselves, it feels like the production team knows what they’re doing.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the ad breaks are almost identical to what you’d see when playing on Fox or NBC. There are just as many ads here as on TV, with the only noticeable difference being more ads for original shows and movies on Prime Video.
And that’s the right way to approach it, I think. Amazon offers conventional streaming close to what older generations are used to, while younger viewers can have fun with the Dude Perfect stream (or whatever else Amazon adds along the way). That way everyone is happy. Football fans have certain expectations of what they want to see when they sit down to watch their favorite team, and Amazon seems to understand that.
Here’s hoping there won’t be any bandwidth issues once the real games start.
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