The first ever NFL game to be shown exclusively on streaming platforms scored solid numbers, showing encouraging signs for future streaming-only games.
Saturday’s encounter between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals delivered an averaged minute audience of 4.8 million viewers on Amazon, Twitch, Verizon, the NFL and the two teams’ platforms. For comparison, games which aired only on the NFL Network have averaged around 5.6 million viewers so far this season, meaning the potential streaming drop-off doesn’t seem to be all that big.
The NFL is touting that 4.8 million as the largest ever average minute audience, which represents the closest streaming metric to traditional ratings measurements, for an NFL regular season game.
The league estimated that a total of 11.2 million viewers tuned in to see Kyler Murray and the Cardinals fail to make a push for the playoffs, falling 20-12 to a 49ers team led by C.J. Beathard.
With local stations in San Francisco and Phoenix factored in, the averaged minute audience rose to 5.9 million viewers.
Along with the news that the Dec. 26 matchup would become the first streaming-only game in NFL history, Amazon also announced plans back in late Nov. to stream CBS’s broadcast of the NFL Wild Card playoff game on Jan. 10 of next year to Prime members in the U.S. That will be the first postseason NFL game to be simulcast on Prime Video.
Earlier this year, the streamer signed an expanded digital-rights deal for the league’s “Thursday Night Football” package. The pact included a three-year extension through 2022 that includes one additional “exclusive” late-season NFL game for each season that won’t be on a national TV network in the U.S.