A press release by Amazon regarding the second Thursday Night Football game on its Prime streaming media product is a classic lesson in reading between the lines.
Amazon has started boasting about the success of its Thursday Night Football broadcasts after two games, but the information that its press release doesn’t include is more telling than the data it does provide.
The press release states that the average total audience who viewed at least 30 seconds of the New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers contest on Thursday was a 20 percent increase over Twitter’s second game last season. Additionally, Amazon touts that the average amount of the game that viewers watched was 50 minutes, a 127 percent uptick over Twitter’s first game. That raw data sounds great, but context is necessary to understand it.
Comparing an Amazon Prime broadcast to a Twitter broadcast is like comparing an iPhone to the Nokia 3310, the famous “Nokia Brick”, in terms of streaming media. Like the iPhone, Amazon Prime was built for streaming media, while Twitter was built for sharing content in text form like the Nokia Brick was built for phone calls, text messaging and wasting hours playing Snake.
The point isn’t that Twitter’s media streaming is outdated, but rather that the platform isn’t native to streaming video. Audiences have been accustomed to streaming content on Prime for years. NFL games are just an update to that catalog, and so it’s a given that the broadcasts on Prime would be bigger.
In order for Amazon’s massive investment in 11 NFL games to really pay off, two things need to happen on a similarly massive scale. Those two areas are also exactly what Amazon’s press release is mum on.
The first way that adding NFL games to Prime could be a profitable venture for Amazon is adding new subscribers. The press release makes no statements to that effect whatsoever, and another facet of the release is quite telling in this regard.
The release includes several comments from its audience for the games, and as you would expect, it’s a pocket of positivity that paints everything as rainbows and sunshine. The problem is that in all of the comments, it seems that the people were already Prime subscribers thanking Amazon for making TNF available to them.
Watching TNF games comes to Prime subscribers at no extra charge. While there is some value to keeping subscribers who might otherwise have canceled if not for the NFL content, it’s doubtful that is happening on a scale commensurate with Amazon’s investment.
The second, and more important, way for Amazon to profit off TNF is a strategy expressed in a potential Amazon bid for the rights to stream Premier League matches. Amazon needs to turn TNF into one long commercial.
The press release does state that more Patriots merchandise was purchased on Thursday than Buccaneers merchandise, but again, that could have been easily predicted. It’s also mostly irrelevant. What’s actually important is whether or not Amazon’s overall sales of all its products and services have increased because of the increased exposure via TNF. Amazon wins this deal if while streaming TNF games, viewers buy their lawn hoses, cereal and beanies for the upcoming winter on Amazon.
Amazon could be adding new Prime subscribers and making many more sales because of its Thursday Night Football content, but it’s impossible to tell how many of those transactions are taking place. Data on those aspects of the deal is conveniently missing.