Amazon Pleased with TNF Audience, Undecided on Future Pursuit of Exclusive Sports Broadcasting Rights
Last night’s Cardinals-Seahawks game marked the halfway point in Amazon’s (AMZN) season long experiment streaming Thursday Night Football, and according to Jim Lorenzo, head of sports, Amazon Video, the company is pleased with viewership numbers (8.6 million through 5 games), engagement (51 minutes) and the reliability/quality of their cloud-based streaming service. Through the first 4 games, AMZN self-reported viewership figures that surpassed what Twitter (TWTR) drew last season; particularly noteworthy as Amazon requires Prime members to log-in, while TWTR’s stream was free (TWTR also has 330 million users compared to 65-80 million Prime members). Amazon will stream this week’s inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, but beyond that, Lorenzo says that it is too early to say if the company will pursue future exclusive sports broadcasting rights.
Howie Long-Short: In an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at the NYTimes Dealbook conference, Mark Cuban spoke of the “large entertainment media platforms” (i.e. Facebook, Google) and their inability to be “truly effective in recreating audiences”. Cuban says that media consolidation to this point has been “irreverent” and predicts that broadcast rights will continue to skyrocket. You won’t find an argument here. While leagues want to play in the digital space, digital-only broadcast deals aren’t coming anytime soon. NFL Senior VP, Digital Media, Vishal Shah recently confirmed that point saying, “we continue to think some of the best days are ahead [for traditional TV partners] despite some shifts in the media landscape.”
Fan Marino: While Amazon is pleased with their viewership numbers, ESPN (DIS) is less than pleased with the 15% audience decline (to 1.138 million) “NFL Countdown” has seen this fall. You can place the blame on Sam Ponder, who replaced Chris Berman after 31 years as the show’s host, but the audience decline began last season (-10% YOY) after Tom Jackson’s 2015 retirement. The appeal to Countdown was the chemistry between Boomer and TJ. Now, it’s just another pregame show.
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