Amazon taps Nielsen for NFL Thursday Night Football ratings

Amazon has selected Nielsen to measure audiences as the e-commerce giant exclusively streams the NFL’s Thursday Night Football on Prime Video for the first time starting this fall.

The three-year deal marks the first time a streaming service will have one of its live programs measured as part of Nielsen’s National TV ratings. Nielsen will measure full coverage of the Thursday Night Football broadcast, including pre- and post-game programming on Prime Video and Twitch. It will also measure over-the-air stations in team’s local markets each week, along with out-of-home viewing.

Measurement on Amazon will start with its stream of the August 25 preseason game when the San Francisco 49ers face off against the Houston Texans.

In the announcement, Amazon touted benefits of the partnership for advertisers.

Srishti Gupta, director of Media Measurement at Amazon Ads, said in a statement that “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.”

“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,” Gupta continued.

Ensuring accurate measurement for one of TVs biggest draws may be top of mind for Amazon. According to Nielsen, NFL games and shoulder programming (pregame and postgame) accounted for the top 27 live telecasts in 2021, and 47 of the top 50.

The deal with Amazon also is a win for Nielsen, which came under scrutiny last year for unreliable ratings and aims to regain accreditation for its U.S. TV ratings services from The Media Rating later this year. It’s also faced more competition in the audience measurement space, as a growing number of companies look to challenge in the market and provide alternate measurement currencies.

“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, managing director of US Audience Measurement Product Sales at Nielsen, in a statement. “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.”

Nielsen’s work for Thursday Night Football will be measured and processed like all other NFL games, the company said, using Nielsen’s panel and allowing the same metrics to be reported across all other national networks, continued trending, and comparability.

As for Amazon, the streamer’s regular season Thursday Night Football stream starts September 15 featuring the Los Angeles Chargers against the Kansas City Chiefs. Amazon secured lucrative rights in 2021, inking an 11-year deal for an estimated $1 billion annually. Amazon has also been said to be in the running for the highly coveted NFL Sunday Ticket package, though media reports have pegged Apple as the likely winner.

More streamers are scooping up rights to popular live sports events, at a time when consumers’ viewing habits are also increasingly moving to OTT platforms. Nielsen’s June 2022 The Gauge report showed streaming obtained a record high of 33.7% of total TV time, marking streaming’s largest reported share since the company started releasing the report in May 2021.

A June study by Nielsen and LaLiga Tech found that younger sports fans also have a desire for digital modes of viewing and data. Nearly half (46%) of younger fans showed a preference for watching sports on smartphones or tablets, and were 15% more likely to seek out on-demand content. The same group is also over 50% more likely to play games while watching a match and over 41% more likely to engage with Fantasy games than older audiences.

As for sports league’s shift to streaming, the NFL debuted its own direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service last month. NFL+ costs around $5 per month/$40 per year, while a premium version is priced at about $10 per month/$80 per year.