Amazon Prime is adding some new and unique features to the 4th season of its Thursday Night Football streaming package. Cari Champion, Chad Johnson, and Joy Taylor are among the new talent joining the company’s package beginning this week ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game against the Chicago Bears. This is the first game of Amazon’s 11-week TNF package.
Prime customers will still have their basic options to watch the game, including Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the Fox network feed, Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer on the main Amazon feed, or Fox Deportes’ Adrián García Márquez and Rolando Cantú. But taking notes from ESPN’s megacast approach, Amazon is adding what it’s calling a Scout’s Feed, where host Joy Taylor and analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah focus on the x’s and o’s of each game as it happens.
“Our goal is always to lean into customer choice,” Charlie Neiman, head of sports programming and partnerships for Amazon Prime Video told Awful Announcing. “So as we thought about what we’ve done in the past and what’s resonated with customers, we think and we know they’ve loved the audio options of being able to choose the commentator crew that might be different from the main feed. And so as we thought about the options there, I think with fantasy being popular and a lot of folks interested in the analytics behind it, we thought a scouts feed would be an interesting take on that.”
After debuting its NFL Next pregame show with Kay Adams, Chris Long, and James Koh of Next Gen Stats last year, Prime will now air it every Tuesday at 8 and later on demand, with former Cleveland Browns wide receiver and Academy Award winner Andrew Hawkins joining the show. Neiman said that giving this show more runway and allowing more people to view it leading into the game each week was something it preferred over having a quick 20-minute episode on Thursdays.
While the Middle English TNF feed with Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth (a personal fave) won’t be back this year, Amazon is bringing a slew of exclusive NFL content to its Twitch streaming site. Hawkins will join Chris Long’s brother Kyle for a weekly Ask Me Anything-style show every Monday at 2 p.m. Eastern called The NFL Comment Box. On Wednesdays at 6 Eastern, Kyle Long and Johnson host The NFL Machine, an interactive show that will dive into the NFL Films archives.
Twitch will also exclusively stream NFL Next Live during each Amazon TNF game, featuring Hawkins and Cari Champion commenting on the live action and answering fan questions using Twitch’s chat function, similar to influencer streams found during NBA League Pass games this summer, NBA Twitter Live, and previous MLB games on Facebook and YouTube. Chris Long and Denver Broncos superstar Von Miller are expected to be guests during the season, Amazon said.
Prime Video’s stats and video overlay X-Ray, which you can use with any audio feed, will now feature on-demand replays, instant Next Gen numbers on completion probability, the time it took for a quarterback to throw a pass, and the running speed of key players almost immediately after a play is over.
“We were extremely encouraged by customer reception last year with X-Ray and some of the stats and things we did there,” Neiman said. “This is our next evolution of that is how do you make the experience more immersive, how do you bring new data to customers, how do you add additional interactivity layers.”
Prime Video’s production of its 2020 package will obviously be different due to the coronavirus pandemic. Storm and Kremer will call games from a studio in Stamford, CT, while Scout’s Feed and NFL Next Live will mainly be produced in Los Angeles and NFL Next will largely be produced at NFL Films’ studio in New Jersey, an Amazon spokesman said. Other guests will join these shows remotely during the season.
Though Amazon declined to disclose how many people actually watch its Prime Video streaming coverage, offering its customers optionality and interactivity was something the company valued the most in putting its 2020 package together.
“At a high level, we’re really encouraged by the reception that customers have had and we monitor feedback really carefully via a variety of methods,” Neiman said. “We’re expanding selections, expanding the feature set and interactive options for fans, and we’re expanding talent and offering a new set of additional perspectives on the game. I think the combination of those three things is exciting and gives fans even more options to interact with and NFL content in general on Amazon.”