Amazon execs say NFL streaming issues ‘going to be less and less a thing’

Everything went smoothly for many people who watched the Thursday Night Football opening stream on Amazon Prime Video. The soccer match was played and absolutely viewable on the Prime Video app. However, others saw problems. It was hit and miss, as these things tend to be.

And as I predicted after the game last week, Amazon is on board.

On the September 19, 2022 episode of the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast, Thursday Night Football Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli took a deep dive into what it would take to start Amazon’s Thursday Night Football from scratch – Amazon produces streaming it from start to finish and not just someone else’s production – also a little of what it’s like to be at the mercy of streaming technology, which we all know is great until it’s not.

Thursday Night Football on Prime Video.

From the jump, Deitsch noted all the variables that go into troubleshooting this type of thing. It starts with the source, of course, and then filters things like content delivery networks, your regional and local ISPs, your local network conditions, and finally your device. It’s not that easy to fix remotely.

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“People’s experiences of the product — the streaming product — will be different because of a million different variables,” Deitsch said in his conversation with Gaudelli and Pierre Moossa, the head of Thursday Night Football. “Where do they live. What is their internet connection. The device they are watching on. …”

Gaudelli quickly focused on Amazon’s customer service before addressing the fact that streaming this type of thing isn’t easy. In fact, live sports is an entirely different beast than video-on-demand, even when you’re working on the relatively smaller scale of a Thursday night NFL game compared to, say, the launch of The Rings of Powerthe new Amazon series, which is a spin-off of The Lord of the Rings.

“They are very customer-centric,” Gaudelli said. “And I think they’re going to work like gangsters to make sure everyone has this great experience. Obviously there are so many factors out of their control – where do you live, what’s your WiFi like, what’s the bandwidth? Who else uses it near you? But they’re very consumer and customer centric and I’m very confident that week by week that’s getting less and less.”

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Obviously, Amazon — the same Amazon behind the giant Amazon Web Services — oversees things at the global network level. Moossa then gave a quick look at how this type of device-level troubleshooting works.

“They have a whole place called AVOC that we’re obsessed with,” Moossa said, “there they have every single device you can think of — people monitoring and testing it. You go through every aspect of it. The amount of testing that’s being done, the amount of focus on latency, so it was the fastest possible experience.”

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Both Moossa and Gaudelli found that they are completely removed from the end-user experience – their job is to make a show, not deliver the bits and bytes to your TV, phone, tablet or computer. But the line of business was fresh, and you could tell they cared about the quality of the stream.

“I realize that some people may not have had a perfect experience,” Moossa continued. “But [Amazon is] They’re so focused on the customer experience, they’ll find a way to make sure it’s specific.”

Amazon’s next Thursday Night Football stream will be on September 22nd when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cleveland to take on their rivals AFC North. This game is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Eastern. To view it you need one Amazon Prime subscriptionand then the Prime Video app on the device you want to watch it on.

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