Amazon launches stat-enhanced NFL 'Thursday Night Football' to lure viewers

Amazon Prime Video is adding more customizable features to its streaming broadcasts of NFL “Thursday Night Football” as it looks to build on a viewership spike on its platform last season, the company announced on Wednesday.

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When the third year of Amazon’s NFL streaming deal kicks off on Thursday night, fans will be able to use Prime Video’s “X-Ray” feature to access “Next Gen Stats,” such as a running back’s yards-after-contact. The company plans to roll out more statistics as the season progresses.

Aside from the new optional statistical overlay, Amazon will debut “NFL Next,” a 30-minute pre-game show exclusive to streaming viewers. The show’s hosts include former NFL star Chris Long, NFL Network personality Kay Adams and Next Gen Stats expert James Koh.

“We’re revolutionizing the way football fans stream Thursday Night Football and allowing Prime members to personalize how they watch and hear the game,” said Marie Donoghue, vice president of Amazon’s Prime Video Sports. “There’s something for every football fan — from deeper gameplay analytics at their fingertips, to differentiated commentary, to the ability to easily discover and watch on any device, anywhere in the world.”

Amazon has seen a steady increase in viewership since it took over “Thursday Night Football” streaming rights from Twitter prior to the 2017 season. Average streaming viewership rose 86 percent on Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” broadcasts in 2018 compared to the previous season, though neither the company nor the league provided specifics.

Amazon pays $65 million annually for the right to broadcast 11 “Thursday Night Football” games per season. The games also air on Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch.

Aside from the new features, this year’s broadcasts will feature the return of the Amazon-exclusive announcer teams. Viewers will have the option of listening to the Fox broadcast duo of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, Amazon announcers Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer or the British broadcast featuring Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth.

Streaming platforms are experimenting with customizable formats as they attempt to lure viewers. FOX Business reported last March that Hulu plans to allow sports fans to switch between stats-heavy overlays or a stripped-down display when watching games.

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