The Amazon era of NFL broadcasting officially begins on Thursday with Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football making its regular-season debut between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers.
The streaming giant is pulling out all the stops to make a big splash and build on the decent viewership numbers they got in their preseason broadcast. They took a similar strategy when they built their broadcasting team, which includes legendary announcer Al Michaels and longtime ESPN college football voice Kirk Herbstreit, not to mention a loaded studio show and a team full of notable NFL names. The opening theme is a banger, too.
There are also notable names behind the scenes, including longtime NFL primetime TV executive producer Fred Gaudelli. Having produced seven Super Bowls, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more qualified for putting together your NFL game broadcast.
All of that seems to imply that the team there expects to make good on Amazon’s $1 billion/year investment in Thursday Night Football, and Herbstreit even went as far as to say that his plans aren’t to be the best NFL booth but the best booth period.
“My internal goal — no matter what the critics say — is not to be, ‘Wow, they’re pretty good,’” Herbstreit told the NY Post’s Andrew Marchand. “I want to be the best booth in television. NBA, MLB, college — I want to be the best. I’m not doing this to just limp across the finish line and say, ‘I made it.’
“My goal is to be the best booth in television and I feel like I’m working with Al and Freddy, I don’t know why we can’t be.”
Michaels added that instead of trying to reinvent the form, like Monday Night Football adding Dennis Miller to the booth, they’re focusing on improving what already works.
“We are not reinventing the wheel,” Michaels said. “We are going to tweak it, make it better, and kind of roll with it.”
Meanwhile, Amazon is making the most of its “spared no expense” strategy, essentially treating every game as if it were the Super Bowl. For instance, whereas Sunday Night Football uses 25 cameras, Amazon will use 29, just seven short of a Super Bowl setup. And while SNF features one skycam, Amazon’s games will have two, just like the big game.
Fingers crossed that their servers will be able to handle the traffic that is no doubt coming their way to see if the hype is for real.