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Amazon Prime NFL debut draws 1.03 million average viewers

The numbers are in. Amazon may wish they weren’t.

John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that last Thursday’s 49ers-Texans game on Amazon Prime generated an average audience of 1.03 million.

That’s a surprisingly low number, but it’s not a surprise given the realities of streaming. Network TV can gather a massive live audience. When it comes to streaming, it’s much more difficult -- especially since there really hasn’t been a significant push to make people aware of the fundamental shift in Thursday night broadcasting from three-letter network to six-letter streamer.

In fairness to Amazon, it was only a preseason game. And it was played at a time the Packers-Chiefs preseason game was being televised by NFL Network. Still, it’s alarming, especially since the number includes local over-the-air viewership in San Francisco and Houston.

We’re told that the game drew 494,000 viewers in those two markets, through normal broadcasting channels (literally). That leaves a mere 536,000 viewers on the Amazon Prime stream.

Then there’s the fact, as reported by Ourand, that the media age of the Amazon viewer was 51. Amazon and the NFL are hoping that this approach will capture a younger audience. To make that happen, that number will need to drop.

And the audience numbers will definitely need to go up. As one industry insider put it, the preseason rating is roughly 20 percent of what the regular-season games will do. That means roughly 5 million per game -- less than half of the 12.5 million number Amazon reportedly suggested to advertisers.