What Amazon’s huge ‘Thursday Night Football’ debut viewership number means

The viewership numbers for Amazon’s first regular-season “Thursday Night Football” game were finally released by Nielsen on Thursday (nicely timed as a lead-in to Thursday’s Steelers-Browns game). Nielsen said Amazon averaged 13.0 million viewers for the Chiefs-Chargers game. Per Sports Media Watch, that includes 602,000 viewers on Los Angeles Fox affiliate KTTV and 555,000 viewers on Kansas City NBC affiliate KSHB-TV. That would put Amazon at 11.8 million viewers on its own for the main broadcast. The game peaked at 14.6 million viewers between 10:45 and 10:59 pm ET.

Based on Amazon’s first-party measurement, across all platforms, Amazon said it averaged 15.3 million viewers in total. The company said its audience was seven years younger than the linear NFL audience through Week 2 of the 2022 season (46 years vs. 53 years). These are objectively good numbers for opening week — Amazon promised advertisers an average of 12.5 million viewers for the season — and we’ll get into that below. The NFL is going to spin this as proof that there is a mass audience for streaming and like everything else in life, we would stress patience and context. But they have a very good Week 1 story.

We sometimes get questions in this space about why sports fans should care about the viewership of a sport. It’s a very fair question. But “should” isn’t the right word here. You care about what you care about it.

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