Amazon’s Thursday Night Football makes a smash debut with some issues

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from Amazon Prime Thursday night football telecast between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers began with sketches and silhouettes of players while listing the TNF screened as if it were a movie – all to the tune of Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time”.

It felt like the start of a big-budget blockbuster — and for good reason.

Amazon
AMZN
signed an 11-year, $13 billion contract with the NFL last March.

“We are so excited to have Thursday night football be a part of Prime Video,” said Lisa Leung, Director of Membership Growth and Business Intelligence, Amazon Prime. “One of our top priorities is to create the best streaming experience a customer can have.”

Streaming viewers had a choice of four boxes: national broadcast, TNF in Spanish, Prime Vision with next-gen stats and TNF with Dude Perfect.

The main TV show has sparked complaints about the sound being muted, the photos are blurry and buffering issuesespecially in the first half. Others said that the show was bad and that the problems probably resulted from poor technology in the viewer’s focus.

Notably, Amazon didn’t have an obvious icon to indicate each team’s timeout count. That became relevant when the Chiefs took over with 53 seconds left in the first half.

Amazon, however, posted some lovely visuals, including a photo juxtaposing Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid in 1999. Staley was still a high school football player when Reid was already head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Another poignant shot showed Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones sucking oxygen from a reservoir after his crucial third save of Austin Ekeler in the fourth quarter.

Amazon has signed broadcasters Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit for deals worth more than $10 million a year for each advertiser.

Michaels, perhaps the greatest play-by-play sports commentator of all time, too often failed to verbalize the number of yards the offensive player recorded on each play. In one example, he failed to mention how many yards Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman lost when the play exploded, ending the first practice.

Herbstreit was sharp. He offered a solid analysis, praising rookie Zion Johnson’s blocking of Jones.

He ably described how DeAndre Carter got into motion with 12:34 left in the fourth quarter. Carter ended up getting a first reception, but Herbstreit pointed out that if the Chiefs’ defense was in a man-to-man pattern, the Chargers would have caved in to Carter.

And he shrewdly pointed out that gassed Chargers tight end Gerald Everett waved out and didn’t fight for the ball on Jaylen Watson’s 99-yard pick.

Herbstreit and Michaels weren’t the only viewing option.

In addition to the Spanish and Prime Vision options, Amazon had the controversial Dude Perfect. From their 30,000 square foot headquarters in Frisco, Texas, the crew tried to predict what would happen while hosting a parade of dunk tanks.

“We really liked their personality and character,” Leung said.

This band first met in college at Texas A&M University. Tyler Toney, twins Cory and Coby Cotton, Garrett Hilbert and Cody Jones went on to form Dude Perfect in 2009, growing their viral sports and comedy content to 58 million subscribers on YouTube, 16.4 million on TikTok and 11.6 million on Instagram.

Unlike the ManningCast, the group didn’t really discuss what was going on, and the action was hard to follow. Others, however, praised how much their kids enjoyed the Dude Perfect option.

It was weird that Dude Perfect didn’t have a halftime show. Instead, the main stream was displayed.

This halftime, pre-game and post-game spectacle led by Charissa Thompson, Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Richard Sherman was one of the highlights of the evening.

Fitzpatrick, the former quarterback, provided levity, saying he had never passed to Gonzalez, the former Chiefs tight end, but had done it many times to Sherman , a former cornerback, and deadpan to Gonzalez that “Travis Kelce was the best tight end in Chiefs history.

Sherman wisely observed at halftime that the Chargers had no fear of the Chiefs’ secondary, which featured three rookies, in the first half. The Chiefs, however, improved in the second, limiting Mike Williams to two catches and obviously getting the pick-6.

The pre-game show also featured Michael Smith, Taylor Rooks and Andrew Whitworth in lesser roles.

It’s a great cast, showing how Amazon pulls out all the stops.

“We see this as a way for us to sign up customers for Prime,” Leung said, “who otherwise wouldn’t sign up without TNF.”

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