After years of preparations, the NFL crossed a digital rubicon on Thursday with its first "Thursday Night Football" game streamed on Amazon Prime, the first time a game has been carried exclusively by a streaming service.
That potentially industry-changing move was bound to come with some growing pains and critics, but the league at least found a good game to get started with the Los Angeles Chargers visiting the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle of elite quarterbacks.
Amazon, which is paying $1 billion per year for the rights to stream the Thursday games, clearly spared no expense for its big move. It hired broadcasting legend Al Michaels to do play-by-play. It brought in ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit to do his first pro games. It created a studio show of notable NFL names like Richard Sherman.
The gargantuan company did whatever it could to feel like a real NFL broadcast, but that didn't mean it was going to feel normal.
NFL fans review Amazon's 'Thursday Night Football' stream
As the stream began, fans were quick to note just how uncanny the whole experience seemed.
There were also more than a few people who needed help finding the game in the first place. Booting up a Prime Video stream is easy for some, but it's easy to see how it could be a complicated task for less tech-savvy fans, especially those who didn't have a Prime membership.
There was a decent amount of stuff to like, especially when you consider it's a first-time effort for a recently assembled booth. Viewers (including this writer) had mostly good experiences with the picture quality and hardcore fans loved the "Prime Vision" viewing option that introduced all-22 angles.
As usual, Michaels was a plus too.
There was just as much said about the bad, though. There were several complaints with the sound quality and mixing, especially with the acoustics at the notoriously loud Arrowhead Stadium. Fans also seemed to feel like the energy of the whole production was subdued too, though some admitted that to be a subjective judgement.
So the first Amazon Prime exclusive NFL stream was a mixed bag. Fortunately, the streamer has 15 more games to figuring things out.