Amazon expects the NFL to draw 12.5 million viewers on Thursday nights when it starts streaming the games exclusively next month, which is a smaller audience than when it aired on broadcast TV, according to top ad agency execs with direct knowledge of Amazon’s sales pitch.
Some potential sponsors were concerned about the smaller audience. Although NFL has a reputation as a powerhouse draw on broadcast TV, the product is going to a streaming service, where not all consumers know to find it. But there are benefits to streaming: Amazon is working closely with sponsors to integrate NFL ad buys into its wider e-commerce ads platform, and Amazon has first-party data on consumers that could provide added value, ad agency execs said.
“Amazon took estimates down pretty significantly versus what there was out there from Fox [last year],” said one top sports media buying exec from a major ad agency, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But we feel good about it from a value standpoint.”
Another ad buyer said that the overall price of a commercial on Amazon’s NFL games was lower than Fox’s from last year, noting a 30-second ad in the games is fetching about $500,000. Fox averaged $635,439 for a 30-second spot in "Thursday Night Football" last season, according to Ad Age's annual TV pricing survey.
Last year, NFL viewership hit 20 million on the most-watched Thursday game, not including the Thanksgiving Day games. The low was 10 million on Thursday, last year. During the 2021 regular season, NFL games represented 48 of the top 50 TV broadcasts, according to the NFL, and averaged audiences of 17.1 million viewers on TV and digital.
“Moving 'Thursday Night Football' to Amazon was a monumental shift in sports media that aligns with shifting consumer behavior patterns favoring streaming content,” said a second executive at a top media buying agency. “That said, I think many marketers are waiting to see how successful this new space will be for the NFL before going all-in on sponsorships.”