Thursday Night Football stream struggles continue for Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video execs said this week they were “very hopeful” that Thursday Night Football streaming issues were “going to be less and less a thing.” Looks like we’ll all have to give it another go for Week 4.

The September 22 game between AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland was peppered with continued streaming issues, where the resolution would drop out and pixelate — look bad, in other words — before returning back to normal. Then it would be fine for a while before dropping out again. And the problem wasn’t just limited to the game broadcast — ads would look bad, too, which was at least a little ironic given the sheer number of spots for Amazon Web Services.

Low-res Thursday Night Football.That’s … not high-definition. Or even medium-definition.

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

My setup, for example, had me watching via the Prime Video app on an Apple TV, which was connected via Ethernet to an Eero Pro 6, all fed 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 — right up until the point where it wasn’t. It’d come and go, and the inconsistency perhaps was the worst part.

I wasn’t alone.

@philnickinson #tnf is entirely unwatchable. 104mbps at my device and I’m stuck between skipping video or the twirl of death. Just awful. We need a follow up story

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

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

— B (@diplodink) September 23, 2022

The Steelers-Browns game was the second that was produced and streamed end-to-end by Amazon. In 2021 it streamed the games but wasn’t in charge of the production at all, instead piggybacking Fox. The games also were available on NFL Network. This year, it’s all Amazon, all the time. (The games also are streaming on NFL+.)

It’s obvious given the response from the Thursday Night Football execs on the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast that Amazon was aware of the Week 2 struggles.

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

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