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Nielsen pegs Amazon’s Week 2 Thursday night viewership at 13 million

Mike Florio and Chris Simms heap praise on the Cleveland Browns rushing attack, led by the dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, ahead of Thursday night's showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Amazon overpromised and, officially, barely overdelivered.

Nielsen, which was retained by Amazon to generate TV-style ratings for the non-TV broadcast of last Thursday’s Chargers-Chiefs game, has pegged the viewership for the game at 13 million.

Amazon raised eyebrows by telling advertisers that the Thursday night package would generate an average audience of 12.5 million viewers. Nielsen has, one week after the game was played, announced that the final number for Chargers-Chiefs was 13 million.

If the number is true and accurate (and frankly who the hell knows?), it’s much higher than the estimates from industry insiders.

There’s something fishy about all of it. Why a one-week delay? Why use Nielsen to legitimize numbers that Amazon should be able to track and verify in real time? They know our buying habits and our search history. They know what we watched and when we watched it and how long we watched it. How do they not immediately know how many Amazon Prime customers tuned in to watch a live show on Amazon Prime?

Of course, there would always be skepticism when the fox is providing the henhouse head count. Nielsen gives Amazon’s number a patina of credibility.

Still, it just feels as if there’s more to the story. More about the behind-the-curtain back and forth between ratings company and ratings-company customer who desperately needs to be able to pull the sheet from a giant number. More about a little tweak here and a little spin there to make the number just a little bigger.

And is it a coincidence that the size of the audience is being trumpeted today? That big number ideally activates the FOMO crowd, who may now feel compelled to tune in tonight for a game featuring a far less compelling quarterback matchup between the Steelers and Browns.

Last week’s game was as big as it gets on the 2022 Amazon slate, although a couple of potentially great games are looming. If Chargers-Chiefs had been on a three-letter network, the number would have exceeded 20 million, easily.

Officially, Amazon is currently at 13 million, or 65 percent of 20 million. Unofficially, maybe Amazon has even farther to go.

Regardless, Amazon will be exclusively streaming Thursday night games through the end of the decade. If you plan on watching the game, resistance is indeed futile.