Shaping the future of live sports with scale and insights, and meeting audiences where they are
18 November 2022 | By Dora Wang, Content Marketing Manager
When Prime Video became the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football in 2022, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said it would “change the way people watch football.” Not only is the broadcast itself unique – with features such as X-Ray, and alternate streams that allow fans to watch in Spanish or get advanced analytics via Prime Vision with Next Gen Stats – but the streaming format is reaching a new audience in addition to traditional linear TV NFL viewers.
At Advertising Week New York in October, Danielle Carney, Head of NFL Sales at Amazon Ads, and a panel of fellow experts shared their perspectives on the growth and evolution of live sports streaming, and what it means for advertisers looking to reach sports fans.
How streaming is impacting audience demographics and growth
As a marketer, Jeremy Carey, Chief Investment Officer at Optimum Sports, looks at live sports streaming from the perspective of the brands trying to reach viewers. After complimenting Amazon’s TNF offering, which he says is driven by “incredible talent” and “incredible production”, he explained why he was excited about TNF from the beginning, even before seeing the impressive viewership numbers.
One word featured prominently in his answer: scale. Describing their “bullish” outlook on TNF before the season even started, Carey said, “It was more about extending the reach, and the scale that can be offered on an SVOD [subscription video on demand] product.”
On top of that, the combination of Amazon’s retail store and the most-viewed sport in the US results in what Carey called “scale married with scale”, enabling brands to reach more audiences while also gaining insights through first-party shopping signals.
Carey also highlighted the importance of marketers to reach the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, and how TNF not only met expectations but “over-delivered” in viewership among that age group. “What scares us as marketers in the live sports space is just how much consumption by younger adults is taking place across digital and social means,” said Carey. “So, to get some of that back is incredibly attractive to us.”
Danielle Carney, Jeremy Carey, and Monique Harrison speak at Advertising Week New York
Monique Harrison and Michael Smith speak at Advertising Week New York
The evolution of NFL broadcasting
Michael Smith, a Thursday Night Football news analyst on Prime Video, has been covering the NFL since 2001. Early in his career, the formats for NFL were television, print and radio; and since then, Smith has had a front-row seat to the rise of digital broadcasts. At the panel, he discussed the convergence of linear and digital broadcasting in live sports, from his perspective within the industry.
Smith also lauds the way the streaming format has helped reach a new, younger adult audience. “I think the smart thing is we’re [...] meeting a younger adult audience where they already are [...] which is their devices, which is the Internet, which is digital,” he said.
Opportunities for brands in live sports streaming
Mercedes-Benz USA, the presenting sponsor for the TNF Halftime Show, was one of the first brands to join TNF on Amazon. Monique Harrison, Head of Brand Marketing for Mercedes-Benz, shared how her company is responding to the evolution of live sports.
“For advertisers like us, we’re happy to see people sitting for 90 minutes,1 engaging in new ways,” said Harrison, referring to the average duration that TNF viewers watch the game on Prime Video. “But we’re more happy to find out what can we do outside of the game.”
As Harrison explained, Amazon’s first-party shopping signals provide a level of audience insight that “just simply does not exist on linear.” This allows brands – even Mercedes-Benz, which is non-endemic to Amazon – to reach “exactly the right customer at exactly the right time”.
Being one of the first sponsors for TNF on Amazon, Mercedes-Benz did not have a preexisting blueprint to follow. “There were so many unknowns, and a part of me was a little bit afraid of that, but also very attracted to it,” said Harrison. Live sports streaming is an actively growing space, and brands and marketers need to stay ahead of the curve.
TNF on Amazon will continue to develop in the coming seasons, with new and exciting opportunities for brands.
As Smith said, “It feels big, and is only getting bigger.”
1 Nielsen, Live+Same Day. 8/9 – 27/10, Average time spent per telecast is 86 minutes.