NFL’s Black Friday Game Sparks Concerns for Traditional TV


The NFL’s decision to stream the first Black Friday game exclusively on Amazon Prime Video signals further trouble for traditional TV as more sports programming moves from cable to streaming platforms.

Amazon’s Exclusive Streaming

The upcoming NFL’s first Black Friday game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets will be exclusively streamed on Amazon’s Prime Video, marking a departure from the traditional broadcast or cable offerings. This move reflects a larger trend of sports programming shifting from linear TV to streaming platforms, amid a decline in ad revenue and cable subscriptions.

Impact on Linear TV

The NFL’s choice to stream the Black Friday game is a significant sign of the challenges facing traditional TV. Linear TV has been grappling with declining ad revenue and cord-cutting, and the shift of major sporting events to streaming platforms further underscores the ongoing struggle of traditional television.

Amazon’s Strategy and Viewership Trends

Amazon’s exclusive streaming of the Black Friday game is an expansion of its existing ‘Thursday Night Football’ deal with the NFL, which has already contributed to a 6% increase in NFL viewership since the previous year. Streaming the game the day after Thanksgiving is strategic, as it presents an opportunity to capture holiday viewership, particularly in the wake of record-breaking viewership last year.

Future of Streaming and Sports Programming

The NFL and Amazon envision the Black Friday game becoming an annual tradition, with plans to integrate Amazon’s e-commerce sales through QR codes displayed during the broadcast. This move aligns with broader industry trends, such as the shift of live sports programming from cable to streaming platforms, as seen with Amazon’s long-term ‘Thursday Night Football’ deal and the introduction of YouTube TV’s ‘NFL Sunday Ticket’ package.

ESPN’s Transition to Streaming

While ESPN has traditionally dominated sports programming on traditional TV, its planned transition to a direct-to-consumer release for all programming could potentially disrupt the landscape. The move signifies an industry-wide shift towards streaming, although sports programming continues to play a crucial role in sustaining linear television amid evolving viewing habits.

Challenges and Opportunities for Media Companies

Nielsen’s data has shown fluctuations in TV usage, particularly with the resurgence of linear TV attributed to the return of college and professional football. However, the looming threat of ESPN’s direct-to-consumer service poses a significant challenge to traditional TV, potentially accelerating cord-cutting. Amidst these shifts, media companies must navigate the streaming landscape effectively to stay relevant and reach audiences.

Fox’s Positioning and Concerns

Media companies, like Fox, face uncertainties amidst the shifting TV landscape. The company’s reliance on traditional TV and its limited presence in the streaming space, compared to competitors like NBCUniversal with its Peacock service, raises concerns about its future viability. Fox’s strategic decisions and considerations regarding the impact of industry shifts underscore the complexities facing traditional TV providers.