Amazon's first 'Thursday Night Football' broadcast scores big in Nielsen ratings

Nielsen has released the ratings for Amazon's first "Thursday Night Football" broadcast, and the numbers are higher than expected. 13 million people watched the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2, a Nielsen rating of 6.4.

That number includes people who watched the broadcast on Amazon Prime and who viewed the game locally in Kansas City and Los Angeles. Amazon Prime itself averaged around 11.8 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch, with local broadcasts drawing 1.2 million. Amazon's own measurements have the number slightly higher, of course. According to John Ourand of Sports Media Journal, Amazon logged 15.3 million viewers, including Nielsen as well as their own internal measurements.

These ratings numbers are definitely better than expected. The 2021 TNF premiere, which aired exclusively on NFL Network, drew around seven million viewers and a 4.1 rating. Most were expecting a lower figure than that, especially since you need a Prime subscription to watch the game.

But Prime subscriptions didn't end up being a big obstacle. Amazon set a record for new Prime signups, which the company announced earlier this week. They had more signups during the game itself than any other day ever, including Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, which are Amazon's three biggest shopping days of the year. Amazon didn't release the signup numbers for any of those days, so we'll have to take their word for it.

Amazon itself is probably breathing a sigh of relief, since they promised advertisers an average of 12.5 million viewers over the entire season. TNF averaged 13.2 million viewers in 2021, so they're off to a good start, but only time will tell if that's sustainable. The premiere game featured two talented teams with Super Bowl aspirations. The game airing on this Thursday night is a contest between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, two teams that aren't necessarily on a rocket to the playoffs.

It took Nielsen a week to announce the viewership numbers for the TNF premiere, which is much longer than expected. According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, the numbers were supposed to be announced Monday, but were continually delayed until Thursday's announcement. An explanation hasn't been given, but maybe it's another first-week wrinkle that Amazon needs to iron out.