If you had to characterize Amazon in one word, it would be “disruptive.” The e-commerce/data storage giant is teaming up with the NFL to broadcast September 28th’s Bears vs. Packers Thursday Night Football game (the first of 11 NFL games Amazon has the rights to this season) but they’ll be doing things a bit differently.
For the first time, people watching the game (on Amazon) will have the option to select from four different steams: the regular one seen in the United States (produced by CBS), Spanish-language commentary, Brazilian Portuguese, and a second English feed aimed at people who don’t know the rules of football.
Think about it: if you don’t grow up in a place where football is an indispensable part of day-to-day life (i.e. America), 11 large men wearing body armor running into each other over and over again isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense. In fact, it won’t make any sense. It would be like an average American watching a game of cricket or hurling — a lot of confusion.
This isn’t lost on Amazon, a company whose market cap is approaching $500 billion dollars.
“One of the things that I think makes Amazon unique among the different OTT video players is the fact that we truly are a global service. This is a global deal for us that really dovetails well with some of the NFL’s goals to try and increase the popularity of the NFL globally.”
Jim DeLorenzo, head of sports for Amazon Video Channels
There are are about 1.5 billion people who speak English in the world. About one in five of them lives in the United States. Amazon is used to dealing with English-speaking people who reside outside the United States. The NFL ventures across the pond to London a few times a year, but that’s it.
Amazon Prime video is available in over 200 countries and territories; crucial leverage in negotiations with the NFL to make this 11-game broadcast deal happen.
By offering a secondary English language feed for people who don’t know football, Amazon and the NFL are delivering American football to a huge global audience in a way that’s going to make sense to the people watching around the world.
Even if you do speak English, without the benefit of years of watching football, the announcers on the regular CBS feed might as well be speaking Greek. You don’t know what the “line of scrimmage” is. You have no context for “hook and ladder” and a “chop block” might as well be a place where you cut firewood.
The Amazon-NFL partnership is a true win-win, and starting Thursday, September 28th, millions of people around the world will be gently introduced to American football rather than thrust, naked and alone, into the crucible that is the National Football League.