Amazon is set to take over full control of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football property starting in 2022, and The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch caught up with a prominent voice at the company to get some insight into Amazon’s NFL vision.
Deitsch spoke with the vice president of global sports video at Amazon, Marie Donoghue, about the company’s plans for the property.
“I can just say for us, we’re really excited,” Donoghue told Deitsch. “Thursday Night Football already is the top weeknight primetime show on television. We’re now getting a broader package. We get 15 games. We think there’s a great opportunity. It’s the start of the football week, so you can kind of own between Monday and Thursday. We’re particularly excited for the innovation we can bring for fans. We think for advertising, it’s a game-changer.”
Deitsch asked specifically about Amazon’s plans for 2022 talent, including the play-by-play voice. Rumors have circulated for months that Amazon is pursuing NBC’s Al Michaels to join next season.
“I think what I would say is we are working rigorously and feverishly to build a world-class team,” Donoghue deflected. “We will offer a top-notch product next year, and that includes folks in the booth, folks behind the scenes, folks on alternate broadcast, folks working on product. We are building a world-class team in all aspects of our coverage.”
One thing Amazon ushered in over the last few years is alternate broadcasts. The Scouts Feed and other different ways to watch Thursday Night Football on Amazon have grown recently. ESPN also found success with this on big events in the past and the ManningCast.
“What we’ve learned is we know fans are consuming and engaging in content in different ways,” Donoghue said. “Alternate feeds are a prime example of that. For us, whether it’s listening to Hannah [Storm] and Andrea [Kremer] on a journalistic take or Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah and Joy Taylor or diving deep with X-Ray, we know that customers love choice.”
Check out the full conversation between Deitsch and Donoghue here.
XFL Signs Exclusive Deal With ESPN
“Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.”
All 43 games in the 2023 XFL season will air on Disney’s sports networks. The entire schedule will be seen on ABC, ESPN, and FX. Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia made the announcement at the 2022 Disney Upfront presentation.
This will be the third iteration of the XFL. The first attempt in 2001 ended after a single season. The 2020 revival was shut down due to Covid. Johnson and Garcia and their partners purchased the brand two years ago for $15 million.
“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content said in a press release. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”
Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.
“The XFL is going to be a league of passion, a league of pride, and a league of culture,” Johnson said at the event, promising that those three principles will drive every decision for the league.
NBA Playoff Ratings Hit 8-Year Highs
“At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.”
More people are watching the NBA Playoffs than have done so in a long time. Through the first two rounds in 2022, the league is enjoying its best postseason ratings in eight years.
The average audience across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 3.71 million people per game. If you take the less widely available NBA TV out of the mix, the NBA is averaging 4.08 million viewers per game.
At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.
The Boston Celtics have been one of the most reliable performers this postseason. They have been involved in two of the three most-watched games. Sunday’s Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks is one of two games this postseason that now rank as the most-watched early round games in a decade. The other was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Golden State has also been a hot draw. The Warriors have been involved in four of the seven most-watched playoff games.
With both teams still alive and plenty of star power left in the playoffs, the NBA is poised to deliver one of its most-watched postseasons in years.
Domonique Foxworth: Tom Brady Contract Is About Impressing NFL
“I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”
The shake-up of NFL TV broadcast booths has been one of the top storylines in the league this offseason.
Part of the reasoning is because of the massive sums of money involved. Whether it’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman or Tom Brady, NFL broadcasters have been getting paid. And it doesn’t seem like the spending is going to slow down anytime soon.
Speaking to Bomani Jones on The Right Time, Domonique Foxworth said the NFL just wants to continue to get bigger and bigger even with its broadcast crews.
“These TV partners want to be in good with the league. And I think that’s what this Tom Brady contract comes down to,” Foxworth said. “I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”
Even with some feeling like Brady is uninteresting and likely won’t move the needle as an analyst, it’s the name recognition factor that will set the table for Brady in the booth.
“I do believe that if you turn on an NFL game, and Tom Brady’s talking about it, it feels bigger no matter what he’s saying,” Foxworth said.