TV Answer Man, I am a bar owner in Kansas City and I see the first Thursday Night Football game this year is the Chargers and Chiefs. I know the game is on Amazon so how am I going to show it in my bar? Do you have to have Amazon to watch it? Streaming doesn’t work well in my bar. It’s constantly buffering and it drives people crazy. You don’t want people drinking going crazy, you know what I mean? — Todd, Kansas City.
Todd, Amazon Prime Video will have the exclusive rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games during the 2022 season, starting with the September 15 clash between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs at 8:20 p.m. ET.
That means the games will not be on Fox or the NFL Network. It will be a streaming exclusive, which has some fans a little concerned.
While live streaming has improved over the last few years, the technology is still a work in progress. Fans are sometimes inconvenienced when the picture buffers or disappears entirely. I’ve received e-mails from several readers expressing anger over the possible picture interruptions and the cost of getting an Amazon Prime membership, which is $139 a year or $14.99 a month although you can get Prime Video alone for $8.99 a month. (It should also be noted that Amazon’s technical performances during past Thursday Night Football games has been significantly better than most, which should give fans some hope. Amazon has shared TNF rights with Fox and the NFL Network in past seasons.)
I’ve also received several e-mails from bar owners who are particularly troubled by Amazon getting the games as an exclusive. They say they will need to spend thousands of dollars for new equipment to simultaneously deliver the stream to multiple TVs in the bar. And if they do that, they are still not confident that the picture will be reliable. As Todd notes, you don’t want to unduly upset a room full of inebriated football fans.
Amazon has not revealed if it will introduce a program designed for bars and restaurants that wish to show the Thursday night games or other Amazon live sporting events such as its New York Yankees games in the New York area.
But there is some good news here. In the markets where the teams are located, one local channel will carry the game. That means you won’t have to stream Amazon in Kansas City and Los Angeles. You will be able to see the game on a local network affiliate via an antenna or pay TV service.
However, outside the teams’ markets, the game will be an Amazon exclusive. So if you’re at home or in a bar, you will need Amazon.
This policy will be for each Thursday night game during the 2022 season. For example, in week two, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers play on Thursday night. The game will be broadcast locally in Cleveland and Pittsburgh as well as streamed on Amazon., But outside of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, it will be Amazon only.
Here is a schedule of Amazon’s Thursday night contests:
Thursday, Sept. 15: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Thursday, Sept. 22: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Thursday, Sept. 29: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
Thursday, Oct. 6: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Thursday Oct. 13: Washington Commanders at Chicago Bears
Thursday, Oct. 20: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals
Thursday, Oct. 27: Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Thursday, Nov. 3: Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans
Thursday, Nov. 10: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Thursday, Nov. 17: Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers
Thursday, Dec. 1: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Thursday, Dec. 8: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams
Thursday, Dec. 15: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Thursday, Dec. 22: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
Thursday, Dec. 29: Dallas Cowboys at Tennessee Titans
Todd, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann