Advertising insights: Thursday Night Football on Prime Video

June 10, 2021 | By: Maggie Zhang, Head of Measurement Success

Behind the Streams: In this blog series, we’ll help you to gain insights and learn about the latest trends that are shaping OTT (over-the-top) video advertising.

Earlier this year, Amazon and the National Football League (NFL) made history by announcing an 11-year agreement to exclusively broadcast 15 Thursday Night Football games and one pre-season game per year on Prime Video in the US. This is the NFL’s first exclusive national broadcast package with a digital streaming service, giving tens of millions of new and existing Prime members exclusive access to must-watch live football. In addition to providing great customer experiences, this agreement also presents brands with opportunities to achieve better advertising results by connecting with a growing and loyal audience.

The growth of streaming live sports viewership

Live professional sports continue to effectively engage passionate fans. In 2020, NFL games made up 72 of the top 100 shows,1 and Thursday Night Football ranked #2 out of all regularly scheduled TV programs, only behind Sunday Night Football.2

Additionally, as more viewers migrate from linear TV to streaming, they want to maintain access to their favorite live sports. According to eMarketer’s projection, most US households won’t have a pay-TV subscription by 2024.3 In its very first forecast of digital sports viewership, eMarketer also estimated that almost one in four US live sports viewers watched via digital channels in 2020, and US digital live sports viewership is projected to grow by 14% between 2020 and 2021.4

In the context of our latest broadcast announcement, let’s dive deeper into the live sports audiences watching Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video.

Five takeaways about Thursday Night Football audience on Prime Video in 2020

Amazon Prime Video streamed 13 games during the 2020 NFL season, including 11 Thursday Night Football games, which were also simulcast by FOX and NFL Network. This also included, for the first time ever, an exclusive Saturday game on December 26 between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, and a postseason Wild Card playoff game on January 10 between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints.

With the 2021 NFL season approaching, we conducted an internal analysis of NFL live sports viewership on Prime Video during the 2020 season to help advertisers better understand the benefits of this audience. Here is what we learned.

1. Thursday Night Football on Prime Video reaches live streaming audiences at scale5

In 2020, total NFL live sports streamed on Prime Video―inclusive of Thursday Night Football games, the exclusive Saturday game, and the Wild Card playoff game―reached 11.3 million total unique viewers.6 On average, viewers spent nearly 1.5 hours watching each game.

The exclusive Saturday game and the Wild Card playoff game brought a significant incremental audience to the Thursday Night Football games. The exclusive Saturday game on December 26 delivered the highest-ever digital average minute audience (4.8 million) for an NFL regular-season game,7 and the majority of this audience was incremental to Thursday Night Football games.

Why it matters: We’re hitting a tipping point in digital live sports viewing. As discussed earlier, eMarketer projects nearly one in four US live sports viewers watched via digital channels in 2020, and US digital live sports viewership is projected to grow by 14% from 2020 to 2021.8 Audiences are quickly shifting to live sports streaming, and Thursday Night Football on Prime Video is an effective way to reach them.

2. Thursday Night Football on Prime Video can help advertisers reach both male and female audiences9

Both male and female viewers are tuning in to Thursday Night Football. In 2020, the Thursday Night Football audience was 56% male and 44% female. Additionally, the majority of the audience was between 25-54 years old (67%). This audience profile was consistent across the exclusive Saturday game and the Wild Card playoff game.

Why it matters: The broad appeal of Thursday Night Football allows advertisers to share their brand story to an audience of both male and female fans, often in a social and communal setting. Since these viewers on are all Amazon Prime members, advertisers also have an opportunity to reach a highly engaged and valuable audience of active Amazon customers.

3. Thursday Night Football viewing is predominantly taking place in the living room10

86% of Thursday Night Football viewing time in 2020 took place on a living room device on the biggest screen in the house. This was consistent for the exclusive Saturday game and the Wild Card playoff game as well.

Why it matters:
Live sports fans are a highly engaged audience. Our Thursday Night Football viewing experience delivers a high-impact and engaging live broadcast that sports fans love and advertisers appreciate as a way to help drive brand awareness and affinity. Our unique viewing experiences, such as Next Gen Stats, multiple audio options, and interactivity on Twitch, can further help advertisers to create compelling brand experiences with these highly engaged viewers. When brands show up in the high-quality and immersive living room viewing experience like Thursday Night Football, they will likely have a higher impact on viewers’ brand perceptions and actions.

4. Thursday Night Football viewers are also tuning in to our full library of ad-supported streaming content on IMDb TV11

These passionate football fans didn’t just watch live sports on Prime Video in 2020—they also watched other free, ad-supported OTT content on Amazon’s owned-and-operated IMDb TV across streaming devices. Their top three genres across movies and TV shows were Comedy, Drama, and Action. Movie viewing peaked on weekends, whereas TV show viewing was more evenly spread throughout the week.

Why it matters: Passionate fans aren’t just streaming live sports; they’re watching our full library of ad-supported streaming content, such as IMDb TV. Understanding where and what content these passionate NFL fans are also consuming in Amazon’s ad-supported OTT environment will help advertisers create a holistic audience strategy and inform their content-based sponsorship strategy on IMDb TV.

5. Live sports viewers on Prime Video are also heavy Amazon shoppers12

Compared to an average Amazon shopper, Thursday Night Football viewers over-indexed on key product categories available on Amazon, including Home Improvement (e.g., appliance parts and accessories, plumbing fixtures, electrical and heating), Sports-related Merchandise (e.g., team sports merchandise, cycling, athletic sports apparel); Toys (e.g., outdoor and sports toys, games, arts and crafts), Groceries (e.g., coffee, cold beverages), and Pet Products.

Why it matters: The Thursday Night Football audience has a higher purchase propensity of key product categories on Amazon – making them highly relevant for CPG, toy, and household brands.

Looking ahead: Delivering the future of live sports

We will continue to help brands show up alongside premium content like live sports, through reimagined ad experiences with Amazon OTT video advertising. Beginning in 2022, Prime Video will deliver new pre-game, half-time, and post-game shows, and continue to offer fan-favorite interactive features like X-Ray and Next Gen Stats, which provide a more customizable viewing experience.

As part of the new deal, Prime Video has also secured rights to a weekly slate of original NFL programming and expanded rights to in-game highlights for all NFL matchups. Prime Video and the NFL will continue to collaborate on exclusive NFL content and enhanced fan viewing experiences around Thursday Night Football. All these innovative features and premium content will continue to help grow the NFL fan base on Prime Video and help advertisers engage with this passionate audience in compelling ways.

We look forward to a fantastic season of action-packed games in 2021 and beyond. Game on!

Learn more about Amazon OTT advertising.

Sources

1 Sports Business Journal, January 2021. https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Journal/Issues/2021/01/11/Media/Top-100.aspx
2 Hollywood Reporter, January 2021. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/tv-long-view-nfl-ratings-dominance-2020
3 eMarketer, October 2020. https://content-na1.emarketer.com/most-us-households-wont-have-pay-tv-subscription-by-2024
4 eMarketer, May 2020. https://content-na1.emarketer.com/in-the-us-people-are-switching-to-digital-for-live-sports-viewing
5 Amazon Internal Data, February 2021.
6 Co-viewing is not included.
7 Amazon, March 2021. https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/entertainment/amazon-prime-video-will-be-home-to-nfls-thursday-night-football
8 eMarketer, May 2020. https://content-na1.emarketer.com/in-the-us-people-are-switching-to-digital-for-live-sports-viewing
9 Amazon Internal Data, February 2021.
10 Amazon Internal Data, February 2021.
11 Amazon Internal Data, April 2021.
12 Amazon Internal Data, April 2021.