Thursday night’s football stream battle continues for Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video executives this week said they were “very hopeful” that Thursday Night Football’s streaming problems would “become less and less of a thing.” Looks like we should all try it again for week 4.

The September 22 game between AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland was peppered with lingering streaming issues, with resolution dropping and pixelated – looking bad, in other words – before returning to normal. Then it would be good for a while before giving up again. And the problem wasn’t just limited to the game broadcast – ads would look bad too, which was a bit ironic to say the least, given the sheer number of spots for Amazon Web Services.

That’s… not high definition. Or even medium definition.

It’s something that’s hard to solve, and sometimes hard to tell if it’s really a thing, because there are countless variables that go into it. There is, of course, the video stream at its source and then how it is distributed regionally before it finally makes it to your home network. And then there’s the matter of what device you’re watching. It’s as much anecdote as it is science.

For example, my setup let me watch through the Prime Video app on an Apple TV, which was connected via Ethernet to an Eero Pro 6, all powered by a Gigabit fiber connection from AT&T. (And that fiber speed is consistently in the 800 Mb/s-plus range.) And my resolution was fine—to the point where it wasn’t. It would come and go, and the inconsistency was perhaps the worst.

I wasn’t alone.

@philnickinson #tnf is totally invisible. 104 Mbps on my device and I’m stuck between skipping video or turning of death. Just awful. We need a sequel

— Gabriel del Rio (@gdelrio) September 23, 2022

Totally unclear. For a few minutes in the first quarter it was almost good but still too many frame rate issues. How is this not a bigger national news story? Who likes to watch this game?! Tried FireStick and RokuUltra.

— B (@diplodink) September 23, 2022

The Steelers-Browns game was the second game to be produced and streamed end-to-end by Amazon. In 2021 it streamed the games but wasn’t responsible for production at all, just piggybacking on Fox. The games were also available on NFL Network. This year it’s all Amazon, all the time. (The games will also be streamed on NFL+.)

It’s clear, given the response from Thursday Night Football execs to the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast, that Amazon was aware of the issues in Week 2.

Let’s hope they get ready in time for the Miami Dolphins in Cincinnati Bengals on September 29th.

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