Amazon is set to make its “Thursday Night Football” streaming debut, and it hopes to improve the streaming experience enough to keep viewers coming back.
The company will air its first-ever NFL game on Thursday, between two early-season Super Bowl favorites: the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. Pregame coverage is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET — as shown with a large banner and countdown timer on the main page of Amazon’s website. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.
This is part of an agreement between Amazon
(AMZN) and the NFL announced in March of last year that the tech giant was securing exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” league games. The shows were originally scheduled to start in 2023, but have been later moved in the 2022 season.
Thursday’s game is the latest example of Amazon making big investments to become a streaming destination. This will likely be the first time many viewers will tune into Amazon Prime Video rather than traditional cable or broadcast channels to watch a game. (Fans in the teams’ respective cities will still be able to watch the game on TV.)
Amazon is adding multiple layers to the viewing experience to convince fans that this is the future of sports streaming.
Viewers will have real-time access to what the NFL is calling Next Generation Stats, which use machine learning to help predict metrics like pass completion and rushing yards. Amazon said it will also integrate its X-Ray feature, which provides viewers with additional context about what’s on screen.
Amazon also tapped broadcaster Charissa Thompson and former NFL players Richard Sherman, Tony Gonzalez and Ryan Fitzpatrick to host pregame, halftime and postgame analysis, as well as the prominent announcer Al Michaels and longtime ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit to call the games.
Additionally, Amazon is partnership with the rating agency Nielsen to measure viewership of games on Prime Video, a first for any streaming service.
One thing that remains the same, however, is the ball. A promotional video had shown NFL stars throwing a new, differently shaped “main ball,” but the actual game ball won’t change.