After years of preparation, the NFL crossed a digital rubicon on Thursday with its first “Thursday Night Football” game airing on Amazon Prime. This is the first time that a game has been released exclusively by a streaming service.
This potentially industry-changing decision was bound to come with mounting hardship and criticism, but the league at least found a good game to start with the Los Angeles Chargers visiting the Kansas City Chiefs in a quarterback battle. ‘elite.
Amazon, which pays $1 billion a year for broadcast rights to Thursday games, has clearly spared no expense for its big move. He hired broadcasting legend Al Michaels to do play-by-play. He brought in ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit to do his first professional plays. He created a studio show of notable NFL names like Richard Sherman.
The gargantuan company did everything they could to make it feel like a real NFL show, but that didn’t mean it was going to feel normal.
[Watch Thursday Night Football on Prime Video: Sign up for a 30-day free trial]
NFL fans review Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ stream
As the stream began, fans were quick to notice how weird the whole experience seemed.
There were also more than a few people who needed help finding the game in the first place. Starting a Prime Video stream is easy for some, but it’s easy to see how it could be a complicated task for less tech-savvy fans, especially those who didn’t have a Prime subscription.
There was a decent amount of stuff to like, especially considering this is a first effort for a recently assembled stand. Viewers (including this writer) had mostly good experiences with the picture quality and die-hard fans loved the “Prime Vision” viewing option which introduced all 22 angles.
As usual, Michaels was also a plus.
There was just as much to be said for evil, however. There were several complaints about the sound quality and the mix, especially with the acoustics of the notoriously noisy Arrowhead Stadium. Fans also seemed to feel that the energy of the entire production was equally subdued, though some admitted that was a subjective judgement.
So the first Amazon Prime-exclusive NFL stream was a mixed bag. Fortunately, the streamer has 15 more games to figure things out.