In Year Two, Amazon Ups Its ‘Thursday Night Football’ Ad Game

The streamer is hoping younger, more affluent viewer demos and ad customization will give it an edge on the field against its broadcast competition.

In its first year of an 11-year NFL TV rights deal last year, Amazon Prime had some success. Citing its own first-party viewership data, the streaming network averaged 11.3 million viewers per NFL game telecast. And Nielsen Media Research data listed its per game viewership at 9.58 million, both solid numbers.

The network also had a median age viewer of its NFL games of 47, seven years younger than the average median age cumulatively for the linear TV networks televising NFL games. Amazon Prime NFL viewers had a median household income of $98,500, 19% higher than the linear TV network viewers’ median household income of $82,800.

But ad buyer investments during the first season was relatively low, even though advertiser spending picked up as the season went on.

Still, the network has been rather closed mouthed about how much ad inventory it sold last season or how much it has taken in for the upcoming season. For their part, media agencies say they have spent more on advertising and that several new marketers have bought ad time in the NFL games.

Amazon Prime would not put an executive on the phone to directly discuss key questions surrounding the network and the upcoming NFL season, but it agreed to answer questions submitted via email from TVNewsCheck and returned them with unattributed responses.

That Q&A sheds some light on Prime Video’s NFL plans for the coming season, including a unique type of ad pod where advertisers can use different creative to reach different viewer demos watching the game.


TVNewsCheck: Overall, what seemed to be the mindset of the media buyers about spending on Amazon Prime TNF this season versus going into last season after everyone had a full season to make some judgements about the telecasts and consumer response to their ads?

Advertisers continue to have a high demand for NFL programming, and the strength of the 2023 TNF game schedule resulted in an outsized interest from media buyers. TNF is delivering a younger audience that advertisers aren’t reaching with other broadcast partners. We’ve also heard from advertisers that a closed loop with one partner offers high value and scalable efficiency to help them improve their campaigns.

How much more prepared was Amazon going into this season selling-wise for the NFL compared to last season? What were some of the things you believe you did better to facilitate ad buying?

Going into our second season, we had a full season of learning that allowed us to have earlier and deeper conversations with our customers

TNF is continuing to prove the big bet we made by signing an 11-year deal with the NFL was a great decision for viewers and advertisers.

Whereas last year we were focusing on producing a world-class broadcast and introducing both viewers and advertisers to what we believe the future of live sports viewing can be on a streaming service, this year we returned to Amazon’s innovation roots to focus on being a leading ad tech provider to make our advertisers’ TNF investment work event smarter for them from audience-based creative to impression-based packages.

Can you explain a little how your ad setup works where advertisers in a game will be able to pay based on reaching different demo groups and how that will work on the telecasts?

New this year, TNF is offering advertisers an innovative ad product called audience-based creative.

Brands can tailor advertising creatives for different audience segments within the same ad slot, increasing ad relevance for viewers highly engaged in a live sporting event.

Audience-based creative introduces the ability for brands to engage audiences at scale to reach a more specific demo in a way only Amazon insights can deliver for brands.

For example, an automotive brand could run a sports car ad to a younger-adult audience, an SUV spot to a sports and outdoors audience and an overarching brand spot to all other Thursday Night Football viewers — all simultaneously within the same 30-second ad position.

Amazon will be the first-ever NFL broadcaster to provide advertisers the opportunity to differentiate ads to viewers by audience segment. Audience segments are built from Amazon’s first party signals including demographics and geo-signals, allowing brands to reach the right customer with the right message.

What were the strongest spending categories, and which ones fell off in this upfront selling season?

This year, we’re continuing to see strong interest from traditional NFL advertiser categories like financial services, restaurants, auto and insurance. We’re also proud to be driving new advertisers to NFL programming.


You have a long-term TV rights contract with the NFL. How do you see it playing out as far as Amazon growing its TNF overall ad share and becoming more of a major player?

Live sports fans are making the switch to streaming and advertisers should get in on the action. Streaming isn’t just a growing trend—it’s now a part of daily life. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the U.S. population currently use streaming services and that number is projected to grow, according to Insider Intelligence.

With last year’s first-ever exclusive national broadcast deal to stream TNF on Prime Video, the viewership results prove the power of connecting with a streaming audience firsthand. Through TNF on Prime Video, Amazon’s first-party insights enable brands to learn more about their audiences and better understand the shopping journey—from viewing a commercial all the way to the actual purchase. The opportunities are just as rife for advertisers.

And in conjunction with that, how to you think streaming of NFL games is going to grow in the minds of the viewers?

The first season of TNF was a resounding success with viewers and based on the migration to streaming services it’s going to continue to grow and attract even more NFL fans and casual viewers. As fans continue to explore non-linear TV, creating a viewing experience that feels special to each viewer remains top of mind.

We are taking the time to understand live sports on a streaming service by testing new ad products and seeing what’s important to viewers. The NFL is the perfect opportunity to understand consumer behavior on a streaming service. Some viewers may want to stream TNF alongside commentary from comedy group Dude Perfect. Others may want TNF en Español, or Prime Vision with Next Gen stats included.

Did you sell any ad packages for the NFL season that also included advertising on some of the other sports you stream?

We don’t just take a sports approach, we look across the full Amazon Ads portfolio. Through streaming TV ads, brands can connect with their audience through premium streaming content like exclusive originals on Amazon Freevee, livestreamed entertainment on Twitch, live sports including Thursday Night Football and UEFA Champions League in Europe, top TV and network broadcaster apps via Fire TV, as well as the curated News app on Fire TV.

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