Amazon’s debut of Thursday Night Football on Prime Video last night probably looked good on smaller screens, but not so much on big-screen TVs. The video compression really chipped away at the details, rendering a mushy (albeit colorful) image, that wasn’t that much better than traditional cable and satellite feeds. Or, maybe 4k has spoiled us.
We reviewed the Chiefs vs. Chargers game through several devices via the Prime Video app including Apple TV 4k, Fire TV (3rd gen), Sony Bravia Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV, and the browser-based presentation on Amazon.com. The video streamed in Full HD (1080p), SDR (Standard Dynamic Range), 60fps, and 5.1 channel audio. Bitrates were not as high as expected for the image. The video averaged about 11Mbps with a peak of 15.99Mbps. Audio streamed at 192kbps.
How do those bitrates compare to other Amazon content? Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power streams at almost twice the rate (around 19Mbps) with a peak of approximately 22Mbps. Of course, ‘The Rings of Power’ video in 4k attempts to deliver four times the number of pixels as HD, and includes HDR (either Dolby Vision or HDR10), so it would be logical to have lower bit rates.
What about 4k/HDR? According to Amazon, the traveling production of Thursday Night Football games is certainly capable of delivering 4k UHD and HDR (High Dynamic Range), even at a larger scale for events such as the playoffs and Super Bowl, but for now, the streams are just 1080p, SDR, and 5.1 audio.
Perhaps we will see Amazon ramp up the quality of the TNF streams in the following weeks. NFL in 4k, at least for one game a week, would be welcome considering the 2022 schedule doesn’t show any broadcasts in Ultra HD yet.