Amazon's Black Friday game didn't light the world on fire — at least in terms of ratings.
The Miami Dolphins visited the New York Jets for the league's first ever Black Friday game that aired at 3 p.m. Eastern Time and saw an averaged of 9.61 million viewers on Amazon Prime Video, according to Jacob Feldman of Sportico. Amazon's "Thursday Night Football" games averaged about 12.5 million viewers according to Nielsen report from the first week of November.
The Black Friday viewership number — which Feldman said peaked at 11.2 million at 5 p.m. ET — was much lower than the 34.1 million average of the three games on Thanksgiving. Amazon's average viewership is a few million lower than the around 17 million and NFL game sees across networks on linear television, but the holiday viewership gap is stark especially considering the tech company paid $100 million to air the contest.
But according to Columbia University sports management professor Joe Favorito, the ratings aren't an indication that this was a failure for Amazon.
"I think this is va tremendous first step," Favorito told TheStreet. "If you would have said to someone nine million people on the Friday after Thanksgiving are going to watch a streamed NFL game three years ago, people who have been jumping up and down."
Favorito believes that this game plants the groundwork for how Amazon can further bring customization into the lives of people to enhance its full business beyond Amazon Prime. That could be worth the $100 million in a way that's unseen through just viewership numbers.
"I would imagine if this was two years from now or next year, a Miami Dolphin fan in Coconut Grove is getting pushed different ads than a New York Jets fan sitting in his living room in New Jersey," Favorito said. "That customization for that audience is incredibly valuable."
Favorito sees a lot of other ways that the broadcast could evolve, including experimenting with the time slot that the game airs or adding more games.
"Three o'clock is noon Pacific Time. So do you adjust that time? Do you do more research from all those people whose data you now have?" Favorito said. "They'll figure that out because they'll know when people are watching."
He also sees this as a way that Amazon can open up to other sports moving forward, pointing out Amazon's potential to add the NBA especially with the basketball league's media rights deal changing after the 2024-25 season.
"We'll probably see other sports trying to figure out how they can take advantage of actual Black Friday opportunities going forward," Favorito said.
The NFL has a monopoly over sports during Thanksgiving day as both the NBA and NHL do not air any games on those days. But Black Friday is a new venture for the NFL, and the two other major sports leagues with seasons ongoing during this time have consistently played games on Black Friday.
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