“Thursday Night Football” was once the NFL’s least compelling nighttime game series. This is no longer the case after the regular season streaming-only debut on Amazon in Week 2.
Aside from the marquee game between Justin Herbert’s Chargers and Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs, Prime Video’s stellar broadcast has made TNF a prime viewing spot for hardcore and casual fans alike.
Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit gave Amazon’s announcement booth a unique gravitas, blending the NFL’s best play-by-play primetime man with the best color commentator in college football today. It may not be the most traditional expensive combination, but the insights match what NBC has now without Michaels with Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth and Herbstreit’s other network ESPN has with Joe Buck and Troy. Aikman.
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There’s an argument that, from pregame to sideline to broadcast quality, “Thursday Night Football” now outperforms both “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football” in terms of overall quality. Beyond Michaels and Herbstreit developing into the league’s latest dynamic duo, here are 6 more reasons why Amazon is shipping the NFL into the streaming stratosphere:
Smart and savvy pre-game and half-time
There’s a reason photogenic Fox veterans Charissa Thompson and Tony Gonzalez are on the left side of the desk. Their presentation experience is a great balance for newcomers Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andrew Whitworth and Richard Sherman. It doesn’t take a Harvard or Stanford background to know that these four former NFL players are four of the smartest modern players.
Fitzpatrick and Sherman have different personalities but complement each other well on the right side with the venerable Whitworth in between. They all provide articulate commentary with a bit of humor but no hot takes. The only regret is that Aqib Talib, for personal reasons, could not bring his touch of freshness to the set.
The opening of the great game and the majestic music
Back then, the late Pat Summerall was best at setting the stage for the big NFL games on CBS. Michaels, when “MNF” was an ABC staple, had that kind of support in the hit games of the late Frank Gifford.
From the setting of Kansas City to partially animated titles to showcase the game itself, justice has been done for the thrilling spectacle to come featuring Super Bowl contenders from AFC West with elite quarterbacks.
John Williams’ iconic “SNF” theme for NBC has the appropriate hues of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.” Amazon wisely went for the same sentiment of scoring an epic film starring Pinar Toprak. “TNF” needed that killer soundtrack to go from an early-week NFL appetizer to a proper main event.
The return of an underrated reporting star
Kaylee Hartung is not the average secondary reporter. She excelled at ESPN college football assignments at one point, but was also able to come through and do a great job on the Scripps Spelling Bee TV shows. Amazon took a big step to bring her back into the sport after media stints with CNN and ABC.
Michaels and Herbstreit couldn’t have asked for better seasoned support and Hartung ensures the quality on the pitch matches what’s upstairs.
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The ease and availability of Amazon
Anyone still stuck in traditional broadcast modes may not like it, but Roger Goodell and the NFL had to take the next step to start broadcasting national games OTT. For those familiar with Prime Video, it was hard to miss the big banner that made gaming just a click away.
It also helps that Amazon offers DVR controls to allow viewers to pause and record gameplay to watch at their own pace. “TNF” has everything every other NFL primetime show has, just specific to one platform. At a time when everyone is scrambling to find their game on the networks, one-stop search is a welcome alternative.
Incredible image quality, even without 4K
Those who appreciate 1080p – also known as Full High Definition – have been rewarded with a crystal-clear streaming experience. The camerawork and production value was clean and bright, aided by the good mix of vibrant colors of the Chefs and Chargers uniforms. The charts were also easy to grasp without overwhelming data.
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The Unbeatable NFL Midweek Drama
Amazon strives to match other platforms in terms of consistent, high-quality drama programming across the board. The ultra-violent “The Boys” has been the dominant force lately for Prime Video, but now has a powerful, more family-friendly blockbuster “The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power.”
In terms of live unscripted reality TV, nothing is shaping up quite like the NFL in 2022. Amazon needed it to become more competitive and rival the more established entertainment streaming services. The NFL needed Amazon, took, to expand its unparalleled American sports brand. Ultimately, the biggest winners of the “Thursday Night Football” upgrade are consumers who can’t get enough of the league’s biggest action.