Amazon scrambles to compensate advertisers after NFL viewership loss

Amazon scrambles to compensate advertisers after NFL viewership loss

Amazon scrambles to compensate advertisers after NFL viewership loss

  • Amazon is scrambling to make advertisers whole after ‘Thursday Night Football’ ratings fell short.
  • The tech giant’s viewership was 25% lower than estimated, according to an advertising source.
  • Advertisers will likely give Amazon a pass since “TNF” was popular with younger viewers.

Amazon has been scrambling to return advertisers whole for its “Thursday Night Football” shows on Prime Video after ratings fell short of estimates, according to sources at the ad agency.

Amazon has struck an 11-year, $11 billion deal with the NFL for Prime Video to be the exclusive streamer for ‘TNF’ – part of the tech giant’s bid to become a mainstream sports player. Amazon was betting it could recoup the cost of the deal from ad revenue while using its NFL pact to promote its growing ad business more broadly.

For the 14-game season, “TNF” on Prime Video averaged 9.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen data shared by Amazon on Monday. That’s the lowest number for “TNF” since the NFL began selling it to media partners ahead of the 2014 season, according to Sports Business Journal. (Amazon’s internal data showed a slightly higher number of 11.3 million viewers.) Amazon did not immediately comment on this story.

Viewership was about 25% lower than estimated, leading Amazon to give some customers other ad inventory to make up for the underperformance, according to an ad executive. Giving away compensation products means giving up the ability to sell that inventory to other advertisers.

The shortfall wasn’t entirely unexpected, given that the NFL’s first live broadcast meant a change of habit for viewers used to finding the games on linear television. There were questions about whether audiences would find the games on Amazon, and the company made an effort to educate consumers on how to stream. People had to be $139-a-year Prime members to access the games (which were still streaming through the teams’ local markets), and some fans were having trouble finding them on a new platform, despite Amazon’s promotional efforts.

Amazon also faced a learning curve on the ad sales front. He started by asking for up to $80 to reach 1,000 viewers — about double what television broadcasts typically charge for NFL games — before narrowing his request to around $60.

The “TNF” viewership on Prime Video had a median age of 47, according to Amazon – 7 years younger than the NFL average on linear television. “Amazon has touted their younger audience as a key benefit of moving TNF to their platform, which is certainly a good thing for marketers looking to reach younger audiences – however, I don’t know if that’s enough to balance out the lost value in overall audience,” another ad buyer said.

But advertisers are likely to give Amazon a pass overall, given that this was the first season of a streaming-only “TNF.” Additionally, Amazon was flexible on ad pricing and has a wide range of offers — from Freevee and Twitch — that it can leverage to make up for any lack of viewership.

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