Amazon is about to make its streaming debut “Thursday Night Football,” and it’s hoping to improve the streaming experience enough to keep viewers coming back.
The company will broadcast the first NFL game on Thursday between two early season Super Bowl favorites: the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The game will begin at 7:00 p.m., as indicated by a large banner and a countdown clock on the home page of Amazon’s website.
It’s part of a deal Amazon ( AMZN ) and the NFL announced last March, in which the tech giant secured exclusive rights to the league’s “Thursday Night Football” games. The broadcasts were originally scheduled to begin in 2023, but were later pushed back to the 2022 season.
Thursday’s game is the latest example of Amazon investing heavily in becoming a streaming destination. It’s likely 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 respective cities of the teams 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 broadcasting.
Viewers will have real-time access to what the NFL calls Next Gen Stats, which use machine learning to help predict metrics like pass completions and fumbles. Amazon said it will also include an X-Ray feature that provides viewers with additional context about what’s on screen.
Amazon has 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 celebrity broadcaster Al Michaels and longtime ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit to call games.
Amazon is also partnering with ratings agency Nielsen to measure game viewership on Prime Video, a first for any streaming service.
One thing that remains the same, however, is the ball. A promotional video NFL stars were shown throwing a new “Prime ball” with a different look, but the actual game will not change.