How Amazon and Peacock Earned 2 Exclusive NFL Streaming Games

No, the Taylor Swift Effect had nothing to do with it, according to the NFL

The NFL season doesn’t start for months, but Peacock and Amazon have already scored big wins.

On Tuesday, the NFL announced two exclusive streaming games for the upcoming 2024 season. NBCUniversal’s Peacock secured the rights to stream the Week 1 game in São Paulo, Brazil, on Friday, Sept. 6, with the Philadelphia Eagles announced as a participant.

Meanwhile, Amazon received the rights to an upcoming Wild Card game—the second time an NFL playoff game has been available exclusively via a streaming service following last season’s Wild Card game on Peacock.

According to Hans Schroeder, NFL executive vice president of media distribution, there was an “interconnectedness” to the NFL’s decision of where the exclusive streaming games would go.

“The game Amazon ultimately earned was the game Peacock had last year,” Schroeder told ADWEEK.

Schroeder explained that Amazon, which is the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football, had the “ability to earn a Wild Card game” in its deal, which the company did with its results from the 2023 season.

In Prime Video’s second season of exclusive Thursday Night Football games, ratings were up 24%, with an average of 11.86 million viewers per game.

“That’s getting very close to where we were a couple of years ago when the games were on Fox and NFL Network,” Schroeder said. “It’s above the World Series. It’s above the NBA Finals, and so you look at those data points.”

And though Amazon earned Peacock’s Wild Card game, the league “really wanted to do something” to acknowledge the historic performance of Peacock’s 2023 exclusive Wild Card matchup. That game, a meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, averaged 23 million viewers, making it the most-streamed live event in U.S. history.

The game in Brazil—the NFL’s first-ever regular season game in South America and the first time the league has played a game on Friday night of its opening weekend in over 50 years—appeared to be the perfect opportunity, especially with NBC having the season opener featuring the Kansas City Chiefs the day before.

“We finished last season in the playoffs with Peacock,” Schroeder said. “To open this season, open Week 1 off a Thursday night game on NBC and have them be able to promote to their Peacock platform to Friday night seemed like a great way to start the season and continue to build a key partner and platform in Peacock and NBC in a really appropriate way.”

Beyond ratings, streaming is also giving the NFL a unique audience reach, with Schroeder calling it a “key evolution” moving forward.

“It’s a little over eight years younger than what we see on broadcast. They’re watching longer,” Schroeder said. “The Peacock game was our youngest audience for a playoff game in 10 years and was the most female of any Wild Card or divisional audience we’ve ever had.”

Swift rise in ratings

And though the Taylor Swift Effect has been credited with helping to bring in more women viewers—as Swift’s boyfriend Travis Kelce competed in the Peacock Wild Card game—Schroeder noted it wasn’t a factor in deciding on this year’s streaming exclusives.

“It did not matter at all. We had the highest viewed season in our history by female fans,” Schroeder said. “There’s no doubt that for some of the Chiefs games Taylor provided a lift, but you have to remember the Chiefs are only 17 of 272 games, and we saw so many other increases across the year.”

Overall, the NFL regular-season games averaged 17.9 million viewers in 2023, which is tied for the second-highest season average since ratings tracking began in the mid-’90s.

In addition to Swift, Schroeder pointed to a number of factors that boosted viewership in 2023, including the second time the Super Bowl was on a Spanish-language broadcaster with TelevisaUnivision’s telecast, new distribution through YouTube for Sunday Ticket and the league’s media mix across new platforms, including its Black Friday game on Prime Video.

“We played on Black Friday, and I think we really liked that. It’s the first time doing that, and we would expect to continue to play then,” Schroeder said. “We think it’s going to be another key part of Thanksgiving weekend, and we’re excited about how we can build that with Amazon going forward.”

In addition to the two streaming-exclusive games, the NFL also announced a doubleheader on Christmas as the league looks for more opportunities to reach fans.

Schroeder said the league will continue looking across its streaming and linear distribution partners moving forward, finding innovative ways to grow engagement in the changing media landscape.

“We’re going to continue to always be very cognizant, looking at all the data, all the information we have in front of us,” Schroeder said. “Commissioner Roger Goodell pushes us all the time. We’ve got to continue to innovate. We’ve got to continue to evolve in everything we do, and you’ll see that in our media strategy and how we continue to evolve the distribution of our games.”

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