In September, football fans had to figure out a new method for how to watch the NFL. This year, Thursday night games are being broadcast exclusively on Amazon Prime. Not surprisingly, the NFL on Amazon Prime had some critics when Amazon’s partnership with the NFL was first announced.
However, now that we’re near the midway point in the season, it’s a good time to review Amazon Prime’s NFL coverage.
Amazon Prime NFL coverage review
Obviously, Amazon can’t control whether the games are entertaining or not. But it is fair to judge the performance of play-by-play man Al Michaels, color commentator Kirk Herbstreit, and other aspects of the broadcast. With more than a handful of games airing on Prime, let’s look at some of the biggest takeaways from Amazon Prime’s NFL coverage this year.
After spending $1 billion on the rights to Thursday Night Football, Amazon deserves a little bit of credit for doubling down and getting Al Michaels to be the play-by-play broadcaster. Michaels only left his post doing Sunday Night Football after last season, so getting him to commit to a weekly gig on Amazon Prime’s NFL coverage is a huge score.
Even if Michaels doesn’t stay on Amazon Prime for more than a season or two, he’s given the platform instant credibility because he’s still among the best in the industry. It’s fair to think that some fans would be inherently skeptical about watching NFL games on a streaming service like Amazon Prime. But hearing Michaels on the broadcast is helping to make the transition much easier.
It makes the NFL on Amazon Prime no different than any other primetime NFL broadcast. In fact, Michaels helps Amazon Prime to have one of the best broadcast teams in the NFL during the 2022 season.
Herbie fully loaded
Michaels is being paired on Thursday nights with Kirk Herbstreit. This was undoubtedly a surprising decision and took some getting used to at the start of the season. After all, Herbstreit is known primarily as a college football analyst. Obviously, he’s always a part of ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage and has occasionally popped up during a Monday Night Football game over the years. But having a weekly NFL gig in between college football Saturdays was a surprising move that raised the eyebrows of some fans.
However, having Herbstreit with Michaels on Amazon Prime has worked well during the first half of the season. While he’s long focused on the college game, there’s no denying that Herbstreit’s knowledge of football is extensive.
He understands the game as well as any color analyst on TV and gets help from Michaels, who’s able to lead him in the right direction and ask the right questions. In fact, Herbstreit’s background in college football makes him a good fit for a weekly NFL game. He’s grown familiar with all of the best college players before they go to the NFL, so he doesn’t need to do extensive research or watch a lot of NFL games to understand the personnel on the field and break everything down for the audience.
Even after half a season, he might be among the best NFL color analysts in broadcasting right now.
At the desk
Fans tuning into the NFL on Amazon Prime for pre-game, halftime, and post-game festivities shouldn’t be too disappointed. This is another area where Amazon has made a commitment to quality that is paying off. Veteran host Charissa Thompson anchors the coverage with Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andrew Whitworth, and Richard Sherman providing the analysis.
Obviously, not every fan is going to approve of all four of the former players on the broadcast and the unique personalities they bring to the table. However, Amazon at least got recent players who are easily recognizable to NFL audiences.
Outside of Gonzalez, none of the players had any previous broadcasting experience, so there have been some growing pains with the group. But Amazon did get a good mix of players with regard to the position each one played, which helps to enhance the coverage while preventing pre-game, halftime, and post-game discussions from getting stale.
One thing that Amazon Prime is able to provide that network broadcasts don’t is the ability to pick different streams of the game. With Prime Vision, fans have an alternate way to watch the game, one that includes 22 different camera angles, player ID tags before and during each play, and a constant feed of stats and information.
To be fair, Prime Vision isn’t going to be for everyone, especially not for a full game, as it’s a little different from traditional broadcasts and takes some getting used to. But it does bring a unique perspective to watching an NFL game.
Plus, it’s not as if Amazon Prime is forcing fans to watch it. Prime Vision is merely an alternative option, and there’s nothing wrong with giving fans multiple options, which is one of the benefits of a streaming service.
The streaming conundrum
Of course, the idea of a streaming service being used for NFL games is still taking some getting used to for fans. By this point, problems with finding out how to access games on Prime or being disgruntled at needing to signup for a paid service to watch NFL games should be dissipating.
There will be some fans who will never like it and will resist such a change.
However, it’s not as if Amazon Prime doesn’t offer anything else. Most fans will be able to find other content on the service that will make the subscription worthwhile.
More importantly, Amazon Prime is doing everything it can to produce a quality broadcast every Thursday. Fans who have given the NFL on Amazon Prime a fair chance shouldn’t have too much to complain about.