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Amazon and Nielsen close 'Thursday Night Football' ratings deal

·4 min read

Amazon and data measurement firm Nielsen have sealed a three-year deal for measuring the ratings of Prime Video’s "Thursday Night Football” (TNF). Nielsen said this would be the first time the firm will include a streaming service and its livestreaming program in its National TV measurement service. The firm will begin measuring next Thursday, August 25, during the "Thursday Night Football" preseason game, when the San Francisco 49ers face off against the Houston Texans.

Nielsen will measure viewership of the game, along with the pregame and post-game shows on Prime Video and Twitch. It will also measure out-of-home viewing and the viewers watching in teams' local markets via over-the-air stations. Out-of-home viewing refers to bars, restaurants, hotels, etc.

“TNF” will be measured and processed like all other NFL games using Nielsen’s panel, the company said. The same metrics will be reported across all other national networks, Nielsen added.

Numerous major media companies have disapproved of Nielsen's ability to accurately measure streaming services. For instance, Netflix is notorious for not cooperating with outside rating services like Nielsen and prefers to report viewing numbers on its own, making it hard for Nielsen to be accurate. The company has also struggled to adjust to the streaming era, where people watch from portable devices, like laptops, phones and tablets.

After being accused of underreporting viewers during the pandemic, the Media Rating Council took away Nielsen's National TV rating accreditation last year. However, the company is confident that the deal with Amazon will reinforce “Nielsen's ability to measure customers' changing viewing behaviors and how content owners are distributing programming.”

"Nielsen is the long-time leader in the measurement space, providing gold-standard currency to the media industry, and we're thrilled that Amazon recognizes that and is working with us to bring a streaming service into our National TV measurement for the first time ever," said Deirdre Thomas, managing director, US Audience Measurement Product Sales, Nielsen, in a statement. "We are committed to delivering comparable, comprehensive measurement of all audiences across all platforms, and this agreement to measure TNF viewership is a testament to that commitment."

Amazon claims the deal will benefit its company as well since the measurements can provide advertisers with direct comparisons across their media investments.

Srishti Gupta, director of Media Measurement, Amazon Ads, said, “Advertisers will have access to metrics from Amazon that will provide actionable insights to understand brand awareness, engagement, and sales. This powerful combination of first and third-party measurement is something only Amazon can provide."

Also, it's possible Nielsen’s “Thursday Night Football” measurement can offer an idea of how many Amazon Prime Video domestic subscribers the retail giant has since it doesn’t report that specific number. Prime itself has more than 200 million members, but consumers can pay for Prime Video separately if they choose. Protocol recently reported data from JustWatch, stating that Amazon Prime Video makes up 20% of the U.S. streaming market.

According to The Wall Street Journal, media buyers said that Amazon had told advertisers it projects an average audience of 12.6 million viewers a game. This is less than last season when an average 16.4 million viewers watched "Thursday Night Football" across Prime Video, Fox and the NFL Network. In total, more than 80 million households own Amazon devices, per market research company Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Last year, Amazon settled a deal with the National Football League, winning rights to “Thursday Night Football” for 11 seasons. The agreement makes the games exclusive to Amazon; previously, the games were also available on Fox and the NFL Network. The 15-game “TNF” regular season begins on September 15 when the Los Angeles Chargers play the Kansas City Chiefs. There will be 29 of the NFL's 32 clubs appearing on “TNF” this year.

Broadcasters Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will provide commentary on the live-action games, while former NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez are the analysts for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage. The shows will be hosted by sports anchor Charissa Thompson.

The streaming service also plans to offer an alternative feed hosted by Dude Perfect, a sports and comedy group popular for trick shots and stunts.

Amazon recently added a dedicated sports tab that helps subscribers easily find live sports, replays, highlights and more.