It’s not much of a leap now that a sports broadcast is completely on streaming. The NFL was the last to jump the River Styx (though I guess no one really jumps The Styx), though plenty of people have been watching Monday Night through the ESPN app and the like. But Amazon bought the Thursday Night package, and last night was our first look at what they might do with it.
And the answer was not much, at least not much new, and football fans are most likely just fine with that.
The highlight was the opening montage, which had about 20x the production value and thought that we’re used to seeing. Amazon used footage from both Kansas City’s and L.A.’s practice facilities throughout the three days after Week 1 leading to this game — pressers, team meetings, practice — as well as local flavor through sports radio stations in both towns and exterior shots of both. It gives the game a pop, making these teams seem like they come from somewhere instead of just two teams in the NFL. It kind of felt like the old EA NHL game that would show you a shot of the skyline of wherever the game was and got you in the mood. Fuck yeah, I’m playing the Canucks tonight! It’s the Vancouver skyline! I definitely knew what that looked like!
Other than that, Amazon’s presentation was pretty run-of-the-mill, and understated, which is just fine. There were no fireworks, no big personalities screaming for the sake of justifying their place as the big personality on the broadcast. Richard Sherman and Ryan Fitzpatrick, though maybe garishly dressed, just provided plain and insightful analysis without trying to attract headlines (though that might be a direct strategy for Sherman, given the what-have-ya).
Al Michaels seemed a little more off than usual, maybe he was so used to the whole week of prep or Thursday is just a little too early to get him out of cryo-freeze. Whatever, he’s 112 years old, he was going to lose his fastball eventually. Kirk Herbstreit has always been a calm and sober voice in football analysis, letting Lee Corso fart out of his mouth on Gameday to fill whatever goofball quota they need.
I switched to the Next Gen channel for a bit, which is fine if you like tweets flashed at you constantly. Then again, I have Twitter on my phone and laptop for such a thing and I imagine most do, too. But everyone wants to see if they can get on TV. The above-the-field all-22 is definitely different and a new way to watch a live game. A nice alternative. I’ll admit I didn’t bother with the Sigma Alpha Douchebag channel that Amazon offered as another alternative. This Manningcast thing has gotten out of hand to the point where every channel is going to feel like they need to have an alternative broadcast with some jamoke on his couch and sweats trying not to belch on live TV. Or trying to belch on live TV, I’m not really sure.
There was a lag between audio and video, which is always a threat with streaming channels and might not have been the case for everyone. They certainly didn’t hesitate to show Dwayne Bowe hitting the pregame drum for Chiefs fans or the Chop, which definitely is a problem. It fits into Amazon’s need to make the atmosphere seem one of a kind, as Michaels was consistently mentioning the college-like feel of Arrowhead, even though he’s broadcasted at least 700 games from Kansas City. Maybe it was just to make it feel like Amazon’s first week was more of an event.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable moment:
Boy, Bezos must be the most uncomfortable conversation in the world if you get that look from human flu test Goodell. It also kind of lets you know who football really is for, doesn’t it? But all in all, they came on the stage and didn’t try and show their butt or anything, which in the world of football is a win for fans.