Few industry observers expected Amazon to reach as large an audience as traditional TV networks, which have broad distribution and fans accustomed to watching them. The ratings decline still raises questions of whether sports leagues are sacrificing viewers when selling media rights exclusively to streaming services.
Despite the decline, the NFL remains the most popular programming on TV. This season, NFL games made up 47 of the top 50 telecasts.
This season, Amazon began an 11-year, $13 billion deal that made it the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football.” Amazon had streamed NFL Thursday games in the past that also aired on the NFL Network and Fox. But it had never had an NFL package to itself.
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About 80 million households have watched Amazon Prime Video at least once in the past year. That’s about the same number who subscribe to a pay-TV service. But Amazon faced the challenge of making sure fans would be able to find the games on a streaming app instead of traditional TV. And ratings can depend on how competitive the games are.
Amazon’s viewership fell short of the roughly 12 million people that it had promised advertisers that they would reach. When that happens, broadcasters typically offer advertisers free commercial time on other programs to make up for the shortfall.
“We worked closely with our advertising partners throughout the season to deliver on our commitments, and we look forward to creating even more opportunities and innovations next season,” Amazon said in a statement.