The streaming era for will feature one thing that’s the same as the years it was on broadcast networks: Nielsen ratings.
Amazon and Nielsen have signed a three-year deal for the measurement company to provide audience data for Thursday Night Football on Prime Video. The agreement marks the first time a live streaming program will be part of Nielsen’s national TV measurement service.
It also means that the NFL and its advertisers will use the same data for TNF games that they do for the Sunday and Monday games on CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN/ABC — and that those numbers will be public in a way that data for streaming programming rarely is.
“Nielsen is the long-time leader in the measurement space, providing gold-standard currency to the media industry and we’re thrilled that Amazon recognizes that and is working with us to bring a streaming service into our national TV measurement for the first time ever,” said Deirdre Thomas, Nielsen’s managing director for U.S. audience measurement product sales. “We are committed to delivering comparable, comprehensive measurement of all audiences, across all platforms, and this agreement to measure TNF viewership is a testament to that commitment.”
Amazon will have exclusive rights to the Thursday Night Football slate — which in recent years had its home on Fox and the NFL Network — as its part of the massive, $100 billion media rights deal the NFL and its media partners signed in 2021. Prime Video previously had nonexclusive rights to stream the Thursday games alongside the Fox and NFL Network telecasts, and had an exclusive game late in the 2020 regular season.
Nielsen will measure the TNF audience across Prime Video, the Amazon-owned Twitch platform — where popular streamers Dude Perfect will provide alternate commentary — and local affiliates that carry games over the air in teams’ home markets. The company will also measure Amazon’s pre- and postgame programs.
“Our collaboration with Nielsen will allow us to provide advertisers with familiar campaign measurement to make apples-to-apples comparisons across their multi-channel media investments,” said Srishti Gupta, director of media measurement for Amazon Ads. “Additionally, advertisers will have access to metrics from Amazon that will provide actionable insights to understand brand awareness, engagement, and sales. This powerful combination of first and third-party measurement is something only Amazon can provide.”
Nielsen’s Thursday Night Football measurement could also indirectly offer a glimpse into how big Prime Video’s footprint in the United States is. The streamer’s 2020 exclusive game, played on a Saturday afternoon in late December, averaged 5.9 million viewers (including on local affiliates), according to the NFL. About 81 percent of the audience (4.8 million) watched on Prime Video and Twitch.
Last season, Thursday Night Football averaged 14.91 million viewers for 11 Fox/NFL Network simulcasts and 7.78 million for four games that were exclusive to NFL Network. The latter was in about 57.5 million homes in the 2021-22 season, according to Nielsen estimates.
The agreement with Amazon is also a win for Nielsen, which has seen its long-time dominance of the ratings market come under fire in recent years. The company had its national TV accreditation suspended last year by the Media Rating Council, an industry oversight board, amid complaints that it significantly undercounted viewers and failed to bring its national panel of TV homes up to snuff in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Media companies, while still using Nielsen, have also turned to a number of other firms to provide different kinds of TV measurement.
Nielsen will begin measuring Amazon’s NFL games with a preseason contest on Aug. 25 between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans. The Thursday Night Football slate is scheduled to begin on Sept. 15, the second week of the league’s regular season.