Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will broadcast Thursday Night Football games this season, Amazon announced Wednesday.
At 77, Michaels hasn’t lost a step. Aside from Joe Buck, there’s not a better game-caller in the NFL. And while Herbstreit is known for calling college football games — which he will continue to do as part of a new three-year extension with ESPN — he showed promise analyzing the NFL over the past two seasons during select Monday Night Football matchups.
Michaels and Herbstreit give Amazon the name recognition to match Tony Romo and Jim Nantz on CBS, Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth on NBC, and Buck and Troy Aikman on ESPN. (Note: Fox has yet to name its NFL replacements for Buck and Aikman. Look for Kevin Burkhardt’s name to pop up.)
Impressing the NFL with a strong booth was Amazon’s first step after securing the exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football last spring.
Its next step will be more challenging, however. Amazon has to convince — or perhaps teach — millions of football viewers how to watch a game via an app. NFL viewers have a median age of around 50, which includes many over the age of 65.
Many of these 65-year-olds will erupt in confusion when they can’t locate the football game on their cable guide.
“What the hell is an Amazon Prime?” your grandfather will question over the phone. Hopefully, your brother takes the call.
It’s also unclear whether the NFL will give Amazon strong games this season. Remember, Thursday Night Football drew better games only after Fox took over the package. Fox was willing to move some of its marquee Sunday games to Thursday. Amazon won’t have that luxury.
So it’s doubtful the NFL will choose to give away games like Packers-Cardinals to a streaming service, knowing it won’t have the same reach as its television counterparts initially, if ever.
I’d look for the NFL to give Amazon matchups that feature a notable team facing a less attractive opponent. For example, Amazon could get, say, Packers versus the Dolphins instead of the Packers against an NFC contender.
That said, Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit are a strong branding tool:
Excited to announce our booth for #TNFonPrime!
— NFL On Prime Video (@NFLonPrime) March 23, 2022