VAB: Streaming Exclusivity Reduced NFL Viewing

Amazon Prime Video
(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

NEW YORK—As more sports become available on streaming platforms and a growing number of games are only available on streaming platforms, a new study from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) provides a cautionary analysis of how streaming exclusivity can impact overall viewing. 

The new VAB report examines the 2022 NFL season when saw Thursday Night Football (TNF) shifted from national TV to streaming as part of a new eleven-year exclusive national distribution deal for Amazon Prime Video. 

The report found that Thursday Night Football audiences were down significantly in 2022 after shifting exclusively to streaming, with average audience and weekly reach declining 37% and 49%, respectively, versus games in 2021 that were available across multiple major video platforms.

"A key implication for marketers is that streaming exclusivity of sports doesn't drive nearly the total audience of TV networks, who utilize their cross-platform access points including broadcast, cable and streaming," said Jason Wiese, senior vice president, director of strategic insights, VAB. "While streaming's in-app audience can have longer tune-in times and skew towards younger adults, a multi-screen approach—encompassing both linear and streaming—typically delivers higher reach, a larger total audience and multicultural demographics in greater numbers."

Some of the report's additional findings—covering audience viewership, demographics and engagement—include: 

  • Amazon's streaming exclusivity garnered larger audiences than NFL Network-only games.
  • Amazon streaming delivered a higher average 18-to-34 audience in 2022 than the prior year.
  • TV networks drive much larger total audiences to their premier night game series.
  • NFL games available across broadcast and cable TV networks garner much higher reach.
  • A key benefit of in-app streaming TV is longer tune-in time versus other video platforms.
  • Streaming viewership is more likely to skew towards younger adults.
  • Many more people watch Spanish language game coverage from TV networks. 

The full report is available at

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.