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The ecommerce company’s 11-game package kicks off this Thursday (Sept. 26) with the Eagles-Packers, available to Prime members and streaming for free on Twitch. As they did last year, veteran sports journalists Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer will return to the broadcast booth to provide play-by-play, opinions and analysis exclusively on Prime Video channels as one of the audio options for Prime “TNF” viewers.
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New this season: Prime Video’s X-Ray enhanced-info feature will give viewers direct access to real-time NFL Next Gen stats and live play-by-play data analysis during “Thursday Night Football” broadcasts — data previously available only to coaches and announcers. (There’s some corporate synergy here: The NFL’s Next Gen Stats has a sponsorship deal with Amazon’s AWS, which the league uses to power the service.) The X-Ray feature also will now be available on mobile devices in addition to Fire TV.
In addition, Amazon is bowing a new 30-minute live pregame show, “NFL Next,” before each matchup. Produced by NFL Films, the show will provide commentary from two-time Super Bowl champ Chris Long, NFL Network’s Kay Adams and stats expert James Koh. “NFL Next” will feature guests, including current and former players, plus pregame analysis from Storm and Kremer.
Storm and Kremer will call the “Thursday Night Football” games for Prime Video from a reconfigured set at Amazon’s studio in Stamford, Conn. It features more video monitors, and the announcers this year will be aided by an in-studio stats researcher. The women also will have audio from the stadiums piped into their headsets to get a feel for the atmosphere at the game.
What isn’t changing, according to Storm, is the duo’s approach to storytelling and their journalistic mentality. “We go beyond coaches and players to talk to family members, former coaches and others to bring layers of the story to the audience,” she said.
Prime members can watch “Thursday Night Football” games in more than 200 countries and territories around the world, with Amazon picking up the broadcast feed from Fox (which holds U.S. broadcast rights). “TNF” will also be simulcast on NFL Network.
In 2019, Prime will again offer multiple audio options. Viewers can watch “TNF” with Fox’s announcing crew or select the Storm-Kremer feed; a U.K. English-language feed featuring announcers Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth; or Fox Deportes’ Spanish-language broadcast. In addition, “TNF” will be available on Amazon’s Twitch — for free to anyone — and will include co-streamed commentary from popular streamers on Twitch’s live-streaming social video service.
Kremer said coming into the 2019 season after her and Storm’s rookie outing, one important difference is that NFL teams are familiar with Amazon’s game coverage. “That’s a really big deal, because we ask for the same things in preparation the other broadcasters do,” she said. “Last year it was, ‘Amazon who?’ Now we’re a known quantity.”
Storm noted that with Amazon’s global reach, she and Kremer don’t presuppose the viewers listening in to them have a deep knowledge of football. “We’re not just going to drop ‘RPO’ [run-pass option] without following that with an explanation of what it is. We don’t dumb it down. But we want to make sure you’re invested in the game.”
Added Kremer: “Last season, it was such a whirlwind. As the games progressed, we got better and better. Until you do something, you just don’t know that you can do it.”
The enhanced X-Ray player-tracking stats, supplied by the NFL, will include: a quarterback’s average time to throw; a running back’s average yards after contact; and a wide receiver’s average yards of separation.
X-Ray for “Thursday Night Football” will now be available for iOS and Android devices, whereas last season’s Prime Video “TNF” streaming included X-Ray only on Amazon Fire TV. To access X-Ray, viewers simply flip their phones vertically; tap the “Stats by X-Ray” button on their phone or tablet; or click the “up” button on the Fire TV remote control during the game.
Amazon is boosting the array of data in X-Ray after seeing that viewers were hungry for more live metrics. “We learned that customers really love to keep up live stats while watching the game,” said Alex Kravis, head of product for X-Ray.
Here’s the full 2019 schedule for Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” (all games kick off live at 8:20 p.m. ET/5:20 p.m. PT):
Week 4 (Sept. 26):- Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 5 (Oct. 3): Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 6 (Oct. 10): New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
Week 7 (Oct. 17): Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
Week 8 (Oct. 24): Washington Redskins vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 9 (Oct. 31): San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 10 (Nov. 7): Los Angeles Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders
Week 11 (Nov. 14): Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
Week 12 (Nov. 21): Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Week 14 (Dec. 5): Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears
Week 15: (Dec. 12): New York Jets vs. Baltimore Ravens