TV Answer Man, the Bills are playing tonight on Amazon against the Pats. Do you know if Amazon has changed anything up from their earlier Thursday Night Football games? It can get confusing with all these services and streaming. — Chad, Kenmore, New York. 

Chad, Amazon tonight will stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots at 8:15 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (The Amazon pre-game show starts at 7 p.m. ET.)

Since Amazon did not have a TNF game last week because it was Thanksgiving, I thought it would be helpful to review some of the differences and special features in an Amazon broadcast versus what some fans may be used to on traditional TV (CBS, Fox, ESPN, NBC, etc.).

For starters, the Amazon TNF games are not available this season on Fox or the NFL Network. They are Amazon exclusives with the exceptions noted below.

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Here are 10 more things everyone should know before trying to watch the game tonight, and the rest of the Amazon TNF schedule:

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1. How Do You Stream the Game? Has Anything Changed From the Previous Games?
The basics to stream tonight’s game have not changed. 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. Do You Need an Amazon Prime Sub to Watch Tonight?
No, just like the first four weeks, there are four different ways to watch Amazon’s TNF games without paying a dime: Local channels (tonight: Boston 25 News, WFXT-TV, in the Patriots market; WKBW-TV, channel 7, in the Buffalo market.) in the markets of the two teams playing; bars and restaurants that show the game via DIRECTV, Cox or Dish; a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime; or a free Twitch account. See this article for more details. (You can also watch TNF games on the pay mobile streaming service, NFL Plus. See this article for details.)

3. How Much Is an Amazon Prime Sub?
If you want to subscribe to watch the TNF 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.)

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4. Has Amazon’s Stream Crashed? Does the Picture Look Good?
Most viewers have said the Amazon picture is bright with vivid colors, leaving some to wonder if it’s in 4K. (Nope, 1080p HD.) There have also been no widespread reports of the technical meltdowns that have become so common with high-profile live streaming broadcasts. That said, some people have expressed frustration on social media (and in the TV Answer Man comments section) of constant bufferingerror codes, muted and/or out-of-sync audio, and dim colors. While the positive responses seem to outnumber the negative reviews, there’s no denying that many fans have been disappointed with the stream. Live streaming, despite its growing popularity and conveniences, still is a work in progress.

5. Are There Ways to Avoid Streaming Delays?
As noted earlier, live streaming can be unreliable, perhaps most notably that it can be up to a minute behind the real time action. (Amazon stream has been 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. Do You Have Any Tips On How to Improve the Stream?
Many fans who have complained about the Amazon TNF stream note that they have the fastest Internet service available in their area. So the usual response that you should upgrade your Internet plan may not suffice. However, I would recommend reading our article on how to improve streaming in general.

7. 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 have complained in the first several weeks of Amazon’s broadcasts that the game did not record for them and that they couldn’t watch a replay after it was over. They also said they could not pause, rewind or fast-forward during the live action.

Some readers have also said that if you record the game, and tune in mid-way, you can’t go back to the beginning; you have to start watching from the point when you started the stream. You can only go back and watch the game in its entirety when the game is over.

Amazon maintains that the DVR controls are working properly, but based on the sizeable number of complaints, I can’t guarantee they will work for you. See this article for more details.

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8. Can You Download the TNF Games?
No, you can record them, but you can’t download them onto a device. See this article for details.

9. 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.

There are also three other ways to watch the games in bars and restaurants. See this article for details.

10. 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.

Chad, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann