Although it’s typically home to video game streamers, Twitch was the online home for the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets last night. The platform aired Thursday Night Football, and it was a big hit.
The broadcast achieved 1.2 million views. This is a dramatic increase from the 321,147 who tuned into the opening Thursday Night Football game of the year. That game was broadcast on September 26 between the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The partnership between Twitch and the NFL is an effort to expand its audience to a younger demographic of fans. Since 2000, the median age of NFL viewers has grown from 44 to 50. The league decided that it should actively recruit younger eyeballs. It’s not broadcast or cable television where they’re at; they’re on Twitch and YouTube.
This is not the first year of the partnership. In 2018, the National Football League teamed up with Amazon to broadcast select games on two of its video streaming services: Twitch and Prime Video.
However, the games are not exclusive. Unlike the exclusive rights deal signed between ESPN and the NFL for Monday Night Football, the Amazon deal grants no exclusivity. Thursday night games are also shown on regular TV and cable networks, including NFL Network.
“NFL football remains the biggest sport in America, and its TV numbers are up this year after a couple of disappointing seasons, but age trend certainly must be a note of concern for them,” Torque Esports president and CEO, Darren Cox said.
“While we are still some way away from the league abandoning traditional cable networks and going all-in on streaming, our numbers from Stream Hatchet indicate their experiment on Twitch is moving in the right direction,” Cox added.