We live and die week to week as our teams fight to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl with hopes of delivering a win to a hungry fanbase. It's all many of us can think about from the second our team's regular season play ends to the first kick-off the following summer.
We put on our favorite team hoodie or lucky jersey, cook our signature game day dish or order in our go-to pizzas, and prepare to scream at our TVs while anxiously pacing in our living rooms for four quarters every week.
It's what we, the fans, live for.
The NFL knows the devotion running through our veins. It knows we'll do what we have to do in order to catch all the action. If it seems like every year the price of being an NFL fan goes up, it's because it is and this year, the price of watching Thursday Night Football isn't just our time or choosing one show over another, it's $14.99 a month. And the NFL knows we'll pay it.
NFL Broadcasts Meet New-Age Media
We're living in the golden age of streaming. Cord cutting has become the norm, and with streaming giants like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount Plus and others, the need for conventional cable plans or Dish TV is non-existent.
Yet, the NFL has made no effort to make it easier for us to watch the games we love, and if you don't live in the market your ride-or-die team plays in, it's infuriatingly difficult to catch the match-ups. Sunday action is held captive by the NFL Sunday Ticket; and those of us who subscribe, with no other choice if we want to watch our team's games consistently, know just how reliable the Ticket is. But we grin, we bear it, and we begrudgingly sign up because the other option is to not see our teams play — and that's not an option.
Ok, so you're an NFL fan cursing your viewing options on Sundays and then the NFL adds a Thursday night game to the mix and you're stoked. What football fan doesn't want more opportunities to watch football? Then 2022 rolls along and the NFL decides to give exclusive rights to Amazon Prime Video. Gone are our options to watch on FOX, NFL Network or CBS. There's only one choice, another paid service fans have to subscribe to if they want to partake in Thursday night viewing. Prime Video is free to those with Amazon Prime memberships, but what about all the football fans without such a membership, what will catching TNF cost them and is it worth it? It is just one game, after all.
It may only be one game, but the NFL has made it must-see action. If you don't believe me, check out the schedule for yourself.
Prime Video Thursday Night Football Schedule
- Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs - Sept. 15
- Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns - Sept. 22
- Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals - Sept. 29
- Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos - Oct. 6
- Washington Commanders vs. Chicago Bears - Oct. 13
- New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals - Oct. 20
- Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Oct. 27
- Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans - Nov. 3
- Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers - Nov. 10
- Tennessee Titans vs. Green Bay Packers - Nov. 17
- Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots - Dec. 1
- Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Rams - Dec. 8
- San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks - Dec. 15
- Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets - Dec. 22
- Dallas Cowboys vs. Tennessee Titans - Dec. 29
The NFL's TNF on Prime kicked off with AFC West juggernauts Chiefs and Chargers in Week 2. It lived up to all the hype and delivered a nail-biting battle. The Chiefs ended up securing a W in their home opener, winning 27-24. It feels criminal all football fans couldn't watch due to the subscription required to view.
This week, Week 3, is serving one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL, Steelers vs. Browns. The storied rivalry goes back more than 60 years to their first meeting on October 7, 1950, in which the Browns won 30-17.
Known to locals as 'The Turnpike Rivalry', (referring to the two teams being separated by approximately 130 miles, predominantly stretching along the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes) this matchup is a historical battle of foes, and many fans make the two-hour drive every year to cheer on their side. This year, for the first time in 18 seasons, the Steelers will be led into battle by someone other than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh leads the Turnpike War all-time series, 77-60-1, and has won the past two meetings.
Thursdays on Prime Video are Here to Stay
This week, no matter if you live off the turnpikes or on either coast, to catch this new chapter in one of the NFL's most storied rivalries you'll need a Prime Video account. Old and young fans are going to have to get over it and adapt to it because Amazon signed a $11 billion deal with the league last year.
According to CNET, "Amazon Prime's broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Prime Video last week reportedly scored the internet retailer a record number of Prime subscriptions for a 3-hour period, beating its records for Prime Day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday."
In a staff note from Jay Marine, seen by CNET, the Prime Video VP and Global Head of Sports said, "By every measure, 'Thursday Night Football' on Prime Video was a resounding success. Our first exclusive TNF broadcast delivered the most watched night of primetime in the US in the history of Prime Video. While we're still waiting for official Nielsen ratings, our measurement shows that the audience numbers exceeded all of our expectations for viewership."
The success of TNF on Prime, despite an additional fee, is further proof the NFL is King. The price of services like NFL Sunday Ticket and Prime Video won't deter fans from coughing up the dough required to watch the sport they love.
IF Amazon can continue to deliver on Thursdays, could the company potentially become the new home for Sunday Ticket after this season's contract with DirectTV ends? Anything is possible in this new frontier of sports streaming, and the hard truth is the NFL knows fans will pay whatever price is required. It may not be rational to have a cable bill, Sunday Ticket bill and Amazon Prime Video streaming bill just to watch your favorite teams play football, but being a fan isn't a rational business — it's the price we pay.
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