Amazon, NFL hope league’s first Black Friday game kicks off a Thanksgiving weekend tradition

AP file photo by Rebecca Blackwell / Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his teammates will visit the New York Jets on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, with Amazon Prime Video streaming the matchup for free. It's the first Black Friday game in NFL history, and the league and Amazon are both optimistic it can become a holiday tradition.
AP file photo by Rebecca Blackwell / Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his teammates will visit the New York Jets on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, with Amazon Prime Video streaming the matchup for free. It's the first Black Friday game in NFL history, and the league and Amazon are both optimistic it can become a holiday tradition.

It is not a stretch to say the Black Friday game between the Miami Dolphins and the host New York Jets is Amazon's Super Bowl.

Not only does it mean an additional football game on Prime Video that Amazon hopes to make into a yearly tradition for the day after Thanksgiving, it comes on what's often portrayed as the busiest shopping day of the year.

"When we talked with the NFL, this is a perfect marriage. Black Friday is a huge event for us every year. We're really putting everything behind this," said Jay Marine, vice president of Prime Video.

Hans Schroeder, the executive vice president of NFL Media, said the league had been exploring the possibility of adding a game on Black Friday for a while. The Thanksgiving Day tripleheader of games were among the most-watched matchups during the regular season the past two years.

Adding a Black Friday game gives the NFL another day to take over. Combine it with the game streaming on Amazon, and it was a match made in football and commerce heaven.

"It's an opportunity for us to continue to innovate with Amazon. I think some of what they've done this year on Prime Vision is exciting with seeing that intersection of data and AI predictability and taking fans deeper inside of X's and O's," Schroeder said. "I think the viewing experience will feel a little bit different and unique for that day and appropriately. We're excited about that."

Even though Amazon will highlight some deals and promotions throughout the day, it will not feel like Home Shopping Network meets a football game.

Marine said some of the Black Friday deals will be highlighted during commercials, and there will be a QR code to scan and shop during the game. There will be one major promotion per quarter and other deals during the pregame, postgame and halftime shows.

The game will be available for all fans to stream for free. According to Nielsen, the most-viewed Amazon game came in the second week this season when the Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Minnesota Vikings.

NFL games have averaged 17.1 million viewers through 11 weeks, which is a 6% increase over last season. The league remains on track for its highest viewership since 2015.

Amazon also will show a concert by country music star Garth Brooks after the game.

"I'm fascinated to see how it plays out in terms of the Amazon component because they've taken it out from behind the paywall. So you can watch the game, and if you want to do additional Christmas shopping alongside the game, you will be able to do that. So this is kind of a brand new frontier," said Al Michaels, who will call the game with Kirk Herbstreit and Kaylee Hartung. "I'm curious to find out how this works. I mean, there's a chance, in my mind, that this could be spectacular."

With three games on Thanksgiving, a Black Friday matchup, three windows on Sunday and a Monday night game, half of the week's 16 games will have a national audience. The NFL used last Christmas to show it can schedule games on four days and spread the wealth with matchups across all of its media partners.

All 32 teams are playing this week, with 10 of the 16 games matching up teams from the same division.

While college football has taken center stage in the past on Black Friday, the 3 p.m. Eastern kickoff still gives colleges an early window and prime time. More of the college rivalry games on Thanksgiving weekend have been on Saturday.

Even though it will be Tim Boyle at quarterback for the Jets (4-6) instead of Aaron Rodgers, the AFC East-leading Dolphins (7-3) have ascended to national prominence with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Tyreek Hill leading the offense.

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