Nielsen and Amazon said the game marked a 39% improvement over last year’s Week 3 game, which was on on NFL Network. The 2021 game pulled in 7.96 million viewers across the cable channel, local-market stations and out-of-home sites. Nielsen’s tally for this year’s Thursday games rolls together the local stations, out-of-home and Amazon’s Twitch livestream platform.
Both the Browns and Steelers are in transition at the quarterback position, with backup Jacoby Brissett starting for Cleveland and Mitch Trubisky for Pittsburgh. That matchup made for a decidedly less-splashy proposition than the debut of TNF on September 15, a duel between the Kansas City Chiefs and LA Chargers. Nevertheless, the Browns-Steelers game stayed close until the fourth quarter, when the Browns pulled away for a 29-17 win.
When the “average minute audience” metric is applied, the game averaged 13.6 million viewers, but the traditional Nielsen metric (and the 11.03 million average) will be more of a focus for advertisers and media watchers. Heading into the season, as it prepared to be the first streaming service to have a weekly exclusive on NFL games, Prime Video had told ad buyers to expect an average of 12.5 million viewers. The Chiefs-Chargers contest handily surpassed that, reaching 13 million.
In recent years, Amazon had been simulcasting games, with Fox controlling the broadcast TV rights starting in 2018. Amazon paid $1 billion per season for TNF rights through 2023, part of a massive set of rights agreements in 2021 worth a collective $110 billion.
The Browns-Steelers game outdid everything else on the dial last Thursday, not only in terms of total viewers but also among adults 18 to 49 (4.27 rating), adults 25 to 54 (4.75), and adults 18-34 (4.0). The No. 2 show for the night, Law & Order SVU, drew half the size of football’s audience, with 5.5 million total viewers).
One important metric for the NFL, given its interest in cultivating the fans of the future, is median age. At 46 years old, this Prime Video telecast was six years younger than the average NFL linear telecast this season, and had 7% more tune-in among adults ages 18 to 34.
Viewership among 18-to-34s jumped 113% compared with the same week a year ago on NFL Network, while 18-to-49s were up 70% and 25-to-54s increased 54%.
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