Amazon has become one of the biggest and most successful companies on the planet thanks to its seemingly endless amount of options for consumers. With more than 350 million products on its website, including the 12 million it sells itself, the e-commerce giant has something for everyone.
So it’s no surprise that Amazon Prime Video is emphasizing that same optionality and variety when it comes to streaming sports, particularly as it begins an 11-year deal costing $1 billion annually as the exclusive home to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football.
Outside of its traditional TNF broadcast led by Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit and Kaylee Hartung, Prime Video will offer fans multiple alternate streams each week, including TNF with Dude Perfect featuring the popular comedy and sports quintet in several games this season.
“In such a rapidly changing media landscape, we need to be open-minded and flexible with how certain demos may want to engage with our content,” says Marie Donoghue, Amazon vice-president of global sports video. “We don’t want to be gimmicky, we want to reach new fans and really build long-term relationships with them. I always tell the team we want to focus on what’s better for fans, not just different. That’s our overall approach to the main broadcast, and is especially important as we try alternate broadcasts.
“Given the opportunity to bring The Dudes’ unbridled joy and infectious energy to Thursday Night Football, it’s a real opportunity to differentiate our broadcast and we’re also looking forward to welcoming their entire community, fans and family members to this alternate viewing experience. We really think it’s an opportunity to reach a new audience and I can’t emphasize enough it’s also to engage and build a relationship with that new audience.”
First meeting as college roommates at Texas A&M University, Tyler Toney, twins Cory and Coby Cotton, Garrett Hilbert and Cody Jones formed Dude Perfect in 2009. The Dudes have grown their viral sports and comedic content into 58 million subscribers on YouTube, 16.4 million on TikTok and 11.6 million on Instagram as well as a live tour selling out venues nationwide.
TNF with Dude Perfect will feature the group raising the stakes with off-the-wall challenges, good-spirited ribbing and life-changing dares rooted in the on-field action live from their 30,000-square-foot headquarters in Frisco, Texas. The guys will predict what happens in the next play while welcoming a parade of dunk tanks, pudding cannons and special guests.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” The Dudes said in a statement. “When Amazon Prime Video first reached out, we knew this was going to be an opportunity we couldn’t turn down—and one that we wanted to devote our full time and attention to. It’s important to us to make this a very unique product and an experience that viewers have never seen before.”
The alternate stream is the first of many expected to be announced by Prime Video ahead of its Thursday Night Football regular-season debut on September 15 as the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs. According to Donoghue, Prime Video will offer a minimum of two alternate streams each week.
“We’ll be announcing a few more as we get closer to the season launch,” she says. “It’s very intentional, it’s not just a variety of gimmicks for the sake of being different.”
Former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, who is one of the most sought after names in sports media, has been linked to host an alternate “McAfee-Cast,” according to reports.
Other reports suggest a “QBs only” alternate telecast is in the works with former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees attached despite lasting one season as an analyst with NBC Sports.
“That’s the advantage of OTT—we don’t have to pick one type of fan to program to him or her, we can offer different options,” Donoghue says. “We’ll have the best broadcast in the business with our traditional primary broadcast with Al, Kirk, Kaylee and the team, but the alternate feeds really do offer us an opportunity to try new things and engage new audiences in different ways.”
Amazon Prime Video’s exclusive 15-game regular-season TNF package (which also includes one preseason game) debuts this fall, one year earlier than previously announced after the NFL cut short its deal with Fox. Amazon’s 11-year deal, which matches the length of the Sunday and Monday packages acquired by Disney, Comcast, ViacomCBS and Fox, is the first time in NFL history an all-streaming provider will carry a weekly package of games.
The Thursday Night Football broadcast also enlisted Charissa Thompson, Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Aqib Talib, Andrew Whitworth and Richard Sherman as contributors for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage.
“We’ve been in business with (the NFL) for a while but bringing a national package over to streaming was a very big and groundbreaking move,” Donoghue says. “When we were negotiating that deal, it was essential we differentiate ourselves with what we could bring to the NFL.
“Central to that discussion was always our commitment to innovate and to reach and engage new audiences. We believe the alternate feeds overall deliver on these goals and it’s absolutely what we’re doing with Dude Perfect.”