Sep 15, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon records big numbers in ‘TNF’ debut

The first-ever “Thursday Night Football” game on Amazon’s Prime Video averaged 13.03 million viewers — better that Amazon projected — according to Nielsen.

That figure also includes the local broadcasts in the home markets of the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers.

Amazon had guaranteed advertisers at least 12.5 million viewers for the Thursday night games. Variety said the viewership for the Sept. 15 game, won by the Chiefs, exceeded the 8.84 million people who watched last season’s Thursday night opener on NFL Network and through digital services.

Prime is a subscription-only service that costs $139 a year and includes a variety of benefits, including free shipping on purchases made on Amazon. CNBC reported that a record number of people who wanted to watch last Thursday’s game signed up for Prime — more than on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers meet Thursday night to kick off Week 3, with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit on the call.

–Field Level Media

Sep 15, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Logo for Amazon Prime Thursday Night Football on television camera pictured at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon’s ‘TNF’ debut drives record audience, Prime sign-ups

The Nielsen ratings are not yet out for Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” debut, but the company is already seeing benefits after one game.

Amazon vice president Jay Marine, the head of Prime Video, told employees in an internal memo this week that the company’s internal numbers were promising.

Last Thursday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers produced more new sign-ups for Amazon Prime in one three-hour period than the company had ever seen.

It also set a company record for primetime audience in the U.S., according to Marine, though that figure was not released.

“Thursday Night Football” averaged 13.2 million viewers on Fox last year.

Amazon is the first streaming service to wrest exclusive broadcast rights for NFL games away from traditional TV networks. The company took pains to produce a TV-quality broadcast, with legendary play-by-play announcer Al Michaels teaming up with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit on the call.

The Chiefs beat the Chargers 27-24 in Amazon’s first game. Week 3’s Thursday game will see the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) talks to fans while leaving the field after the Washington Football Team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Fitzpatrick joins Amazon’s TNF pregame coverage

Ryan Fitzpatrick, the journeyman quarterback who retired from the NFL earlier this month, is joining Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” coverage in 2022.

Fitzpatrick will appear as an analyst on the platform’s pregame show. Amazon Prime Video will exclusively stream the NFL’s Thursday games for the first time next season.

“Amazon jumped out at me,” Fitzpatrick, 39, told the New York Post, “in terms of it is something that’s fresh and new. It just made a lot of sense of what I was trying to get into.”

Fitzpatrick played 166 games, starting 147, for nine different teams in his 17-year playing career. He has thrown for 34,990 yards and 223 touchdowns with 169 interceptions.

He played only 16 snaps last season for the now-Washington Commanders, his ninth NFL team. He completed 3 of 6 passes for 13 yards before suffering a hip subluxation in the second quarter of the season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He underwent arthroscopic surgery and did not play the rest of the season.

Also this month, Amazon confirmed that cornerback Richard Sherman will be an analyst for its pregame, halftime and postgame coverage. Sherman has not retired from his playing career, telling the NFL Network that he was “still leaving that door open as long as I can.”

Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit were previously revealed as the play-by-play and commentary team. Herbstreit will remain in his college football roles at ESPN while adding Amazon to his resume. Michaels agreed to an “emeritus” role at NBC Sports, but Thursday games will be his main role in the 2022 season.

Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, who has worked for CBS and Fox, will also be a part of Amazon’s first foray into football.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) looks on against the Washington Football Team during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon officially names Richard Sherman TNF studio analyst

Veteran NFL cornerback Richard Sherman will be a studio analyst for Amazon’s new “Thursday Night Football” broadcast in 2022.

The agreement, first reported last month, will see Sherman, 34, contribute to pregame, halftime and postgame coverage of Thursday NFL games — most of which will be streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime for the first time.

The loquacious five-time All-Pro has not retired from his playing career, though, telling the NFL Network that he was “still leaving that door open as long as I can.”

“If somebody wants to call late December, and needs some help, I’m happy to help,” Sherman said.

Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, who has previously worked for CBS and Fox, will also be a part of Amazon’s first foray into football.

Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit were previously revealed as the play-by-play and commentary team. Herbstreit will remain in his college football roles at ESPN while adding Amazon to his resume. Michaels agreed to an “emeritus” role at NBC Sports, but Thursday games will be his main role in the 2022 season.

Sherman, best known for his role in the “Legion of Boom” Seattle Seahawks defense in the early 2010s, last played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five games in 2021 while battling multiple injuries. He has totaled 495 tackles, 37 interceptions, five forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries in 144 career games (136 starts) with Seattle, the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Network television commentator Al Michaels before the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon announces ‘TNF’ booth of Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit

Amazon made it official Wednesday, naming Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit as the broadcast team for “Thursday Night Football” beginning in 2022.

They will make their debut on Sept. 15.

Amazon also announced that it hired longtime executive producer Fred Gaudelli to lead “TNF.”

Terms were not released by the tech giant. However, Michaels is expected to earn close to what Joe Buck just signed on for to call “Monday Night Football” on ESPN. Buck inked a five-year, $75 million deal.

“Over the last 36 seasons, I’ve been at the mic describing some of the most magical moments and games in NFL history and am looking forward to many more,” said Michaels in a statement. “This is the new frontier in sports television and to be a part of the launch at this point in my career is both exciting and stimulating. The NFL is the king of unscripted television and I’m looking forward to joining Kirk to bring fans more dramatic episodes on Thursday nights this fall.”

Herbstreit, 52, had himself a good day Wednesday. Not to be outdone by Amazon’s announcement, Herbstreit also signed a five-year extension with ESPN.

Herbstreit will continue in his role on ESPN’s “College GameDay” and as lead college football announcer. He reportedly has a contract in the eight figures with Amazon.

Gaudelli, a 24-time Emmy winner, has produced NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” broadcast and will “continue on NBC Sports’ executive team and will serve as a key contributor to NBC Sunday Night Football’s editorial and production efforts,” Amazon said.

Amazon paid billions to get the Thursday night package for the next 11 years. Its deal includes 15 regular-season games and one preseason game per year.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Network television commentator Al Michaels before the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit to call ‘TNF’ for Amazon

Al Michaels has signed a three-year deal with Amazon to be the tech giant’s play-by-play announcer for “Thursday Night Football,” the New York Post reported Monday.

His sidekick in the booth will be longtime ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, per the report.

A formal announcement is expected this week.

Michaels, 77, is expected to earn close to what Joe Buck just signed on for to call “Monday Night Football” on ESPN. Buck inked a five-year, $75 million deal.

Herbstreit, 52, who will continue in his role on ESPN’s “College GameDay” and lead college football announcer, will have a contract in the eight figures, per the report.

Mike Tirico takes over as NBC’s permanent play-by-play announcer for the network’s Sunday night NFL telecast with Cris Collinsworth. Michaels will still do a game or two for NBC, especially in the postseason, per the Post report.

Amazon paid billions to get the Thursday night package for the next 11 years.

–Field Level Media

Former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kirk Herbstreit sits on the set of ESPN College GameDay prior to the NCAA football game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.

Ohio State Buckeyes At Michigan Wolverines

Report: Amazon set to name Kirk Herbstreit to ‘TNF’ broadcast

Amazon is finalizing a deal to make ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit the color analyst for its “Thursday Night Football” package beginning this season, NBC Sports reported Monday.

The impending deal for Herbstreit comes after Amazon was spurned by Troy Aikman, Sean McVay and John Lynch. Aikman jumped from Fox to ESPN to anchor their “Monday Night Football” coverage as lead analyst.

Herbstreit, 52, would continue his duties for ESPN/ABC on their college football broadcasts, per the report. He has called college football games for ESPN for two decades.

Next up for Amazon is snaring its play-by-play announcer. Al Michaels and Joe Buck are reportedly at the top of the retail giant’s wish list.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey: Thursday turnaround a factor in injury

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is close to returning from a hamstring strain he suffered in Week 3 against the Houston Texans, telling reporters Thursday he “definitely feel(s) good” this week.

The 2019 All-Pro sustained that injury during a “Thursday Night Football” contest, and he readily admitted that the short week played a part.

“It was extremely frustrating,” McCaffrey said in his press conference. “I don’t prefer Thursday night games. You go through a lot in a football game. And you really get two days to recover and one of those days is a travel day. So you get two days to recover, you hop on a plane, you get in a hotel, and then you go out and play in a football game. It’s really tough. But it is what it is. It’s part of the game and obviously frustrating.”

McCaffrey wouldn’t chalk it up to “overuse,” but agreed that the short recovery time was a factor.

“Definitely. There’s no telling that if you had another three, four days to recover — you just never know. But I definitely think so,” he said.

McCaffrey sat out Carolina’s Week 4 loss to the host Dallas Cowboys. He returned to practice Wednesday.

McCaffrey has 52 carries for 201 yards and a touchdown to go along with 16 receptions for 163 yards in three games this season. He played only three games in 2020 due to a high ankle sprain and a shoulder injury.

The Panthers (3-1) host the Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) on Sunday.

–Field Level Media