TV Answer Man, I didn’t get to see the first Thursday night game on Amazon last week. Can you provide some info on how to watch this week’s game and what I need to do to stream it without buffering? — Ben, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Ben, Amazon tonight will stream its second exclusive NFL Thursday Night Football game (the Cleveland Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 8 p.m. ET with the pre-game show at 7 p.m. ET) following last week’s debut between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs.
The TNF games are not available this season on Fox or the NFL Network and the broadcast is somewhat different than what many viewers may be used to. So the TV Answer Man has compiled this handy guide to streaming tonight’s game.
Here are nine things everyone should know before trying to watch the game tonight, and the rest of the Amazon TNF schedule:
1.How Do You Stream the Game? Has Anything Changed From Last Week?
The basics to stream tonight’s game have not changed from last week. You go to Amazon’s Prime Video app on your streaming device. (High-speed Internet service is a must here.) There you will see games shown under the ‘Live and upcoming events’ banner. Then click on that night’s game and start watching.
You can also go to Amazon’s home page and click on Prime Video where you will see a link to ‘live and upcoming events.’ (The Amazon app and web site will have a prominent display of the night’s game on the Home Page so it will be hard to miss it.)
Prime Video is available on 650 different streaming devices, although Amazon says some are better than others. See this article for more details.
2. How Did Last Week’s Game Look? Did the Stream Crash?
The picture was bright with vivid colors, leaving some to wonder if it was in 4K. (It wasn’t. It was 1080p HD.) There were also no widespread reports of the technical meltdowns that have become so common with high-profile live streaming broadcasts. That said, some people expressed frustration on social media of constant buffering, error codes, muted and/or out-of-sync audio, and dim colors. But the positive responses seem to outnumber the negative reviews by a wide margin.
Viewers also seemed pleased with the overall broadcast, including in-game announcers, Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit.
3. Do You Need an Amazon Prime Sub to Watch Tonight?
No, just like last week, there are four different ways to watch Amazon’s TNF games without paying a dime: Local channels (tonight: WEWS-TV in Cleveland, WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh) in the markets of the two teams playing; bars and restaurants that show the game via DIRECTV; a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime; or a free Twitch account. See this article for more details.
4. How Much Is an Amazon Prime Sub?
If you want to subscribe to watch the games, an Amazon Prime membership costs $14.99 a month or $139 a year. A membership plan to only Amazon Prime Video is $8.99 a month. (The Prime membership provides many more benefits, such as free two-day shipping.)
5. Are There Ways to Avoid Streaming Delays?
Live streaming can be unreliable, perhaps most notably that it can be up to a minute behind the real time action. (Last week’s Amazon stream was around 20-30 seconds behind the real time action.) However, Amazon says there are certain streaming devices that are better than others at reducing delays. See this article for more details.
6. Can You Record the Game to Watch Later? Has the Recording Feature Been Fixed?
Amazon has added DVR controls to the live stream so you can record the game as well as pause, rewind and fast-forward while the game is being played. However, many viewers complained last week that the game did not record for them and that they couldn’t watch a replay after it was over. See this article for more details.
7. How Do You Know Which Bars Will Show the TNF Games?
DIRECTV has partnered with Amazon to show the Thursday Night Football games in more than 300,000 commercial venues across the nation. The satcaster, which has provided the NFL Sunday Tickets in bars and restaurants for years, has a Sports Bar Finder app that can tell you which places in your area will have both the Amazon games and the Sunday Ticket. See this article for more details and see the video below for a look at how the Sports Bar Finder app works.
8. Are the Amazon Games Available In 4K?
No, Amazon tells the TV Answer Man that the games this season will be available in 1080p, not 4K. See this article for more details.
9. Why Is Amazon Streaming the Games?
The e-commerce giant is paying the league around $1 billion annually to stream the games exclusively and the investment seems to be paying off although the ratings for last week have not been released yet as of this morning.
Update: The ratings are in. 13 million viewers for game one.
Amazon hopes that the games will trigger more Prime Video subscriptions, and product sales at its web site. The NFL is happy licensing the games to Amazon because, well, $1 billion can generate a lot of smiles.
Ben, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann