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People Really Hated Amazon Prime Video’s Football Debut

Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers kept the game competitive until the end, but many fans were dissatisfied with the overall experience.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 15: Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers catches the ball in front of L'Jarius Sneed #38 of the Kansas City Chiefs for a touchdown during the third quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers catches the ball in front of L’Jarius Sneed #38 of the Kansas City Chiefs for a touchdown.

Getty Images

When the Los Angeles Chargers faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs last night, fans got their clearest look yet at what the future of sports media might look like. The game was streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, as part of Amazon’s new deal with the NFL that has turned the tech giant into the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football.”While last Thursday’s season opener between the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills was broadcast on NBC, all subsequent Thursday matchups (except for the nationally televised Thanksgiving games) will be streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.

Amazon has dabbled in NFL broadcasts in the past, but last night marked the first time that a major game was available exclusively on a streaming service. Some growing pains were inevitable, and few expected that it would be easy to get the NFL’s massive, demographic-spanning fan base prepared to watch the game on a new platform. In addition to the logistical hurdles, it was also the first game for newly-minted broadcasting duo Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit. The two men are very familiar faces to football fans, but had not called games together before (Michaels recently left his longtime home at NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to join Amazon, and Herbstreit spends his Saturdays anchoring ESPN’s sprawling college football coverage). With all of those new variables, many close observers of the league were as curious about the broadcast as they were about Justin Herbert’s ability to measure up to Patrick Mahomes.

But many fans ultimately felt like the broadcast got off to a rocky start. Some complained that the overly slick presentation negatively affected the image quality, while many others experienced pixelation, synchronization issues, and audio that frequently cut in and out.

These problems were not always universal, and many were able to enjoy the broadcast without major issues. And many of the biggest glitches happened on Amazon’s Twitch Channel, rather than the standard broadcast that people watched through their own Amazon Prime subscriptions. Still, plenty of fans left the game with as many questions about Amazon’s ability to broadcast live football (and win over public opinion) as they did about Justin Herbert’s injury status.

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