Ravens inside linebacker Kristian Welch was talking to his parents recently when they asked for some help. Technical support, really.
Welch’s parents live in Central Wisconsin. They do not have Amazon Prime. They’re not especially tech-savvy. When Welch stopped Monday to consider how they might stream the Ravens’ prime-time game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they had only three days to find a solution.
All of which left Welch with the feeling of powerlessness unique to anyone who’s ever had to help a dad or an aunt or a grandparent recover a password or unmute themselves on Zoom or open an email attachment from the other end of a phone line.
“I’m like, ‘Well, we’ll have to try to figure it out,’” he recalled saying. Welch has an Amazon Prime subscription, which means he can watch “Thursday Night Football.” But he’ll be playing in it this week. He wasn’t sure where that left his parents. “If we can figure out how we can log in somehow, so they can get access to the game …”
He sounded like he was already scheduling a follow-up call. Maybe his sister could help, he said. “We’ll try to figure out a way, I guess.”
When Amazon paid $1 billion per year for the exclusive rights to the NFL’s 15-game “Thursday Night Football” bundle starting this year, the technology giant became the first all-streaming provider to carry a weekly package of league games. It also introduced an unexpected logistical question at team facilities around the NFL: Does my family actually know how to find my Thursday night game?
Viewers in the local markets of participating teams can still watch on local channels; WMAR (Ch. 2) will show Amazon’s telecast of the Ravens’ game. But all other viewers have to tune in on Amazon Prime Video. And there are a lot of Ravens players and coaches with family outside the Baltimore area.
Take Jack and Jackie Harbaugh. Both live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both are in their 80s. “I’m not sure my parents are going to be seeing the game for the first time in 15 years,” their son, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, said Tuesday. “Hopefully, they will. They’ve gotten instructions. They’ve got good internet. So hopefully, they’ll see it.”
In the locker room, Ravens players were more confident they’d be seen. Running back Kenyan Drake’s initial frustrations with finding the NFL’s season opener — Amazon’s first “Thursday Night Football” production, a Kansas City Chiefs win over the Los Angeles Chargers — gave him a sense for how simple the process could be.
He’s not worried about his mother missing out, for instance, not after she finally ditched her Android phone for a more family-friendly iPhone. Drake’s assured other friends and family members that watching “Thursday Night Football” is only a minor commitment.
“This is the only Thursday night game” on the Ravens’ schedule, he said Monday, “so if you only get it for the game, then it’s simple.”
Inside linebacker Patrick Queen’s parents came into the week prepared. They recently bought a smart TV, which enables access to applications like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Queen’s had to walk them through the steps of finding the game — “and it was hilarious” — but he believes, come Thursday night, they’ll be ready.
“They can see,” he said Tuesday. “If you can see, you can read. You’ll be all right. That’s all that matters.”
Other Ravens took silence as a good sign. Defensive lineman Broderick Washington, who has a “big supporting group back home” in his native Texas, hadn’t fielded any questions about Thursday’s game by Monday evening. His mother has an Amazon Prime login. He figured that might be enough to help others. “They always tend to find a way,” he said. “And if not, they’ll hit my mom up.”
Inside linebacker Malik Harrison wasn’t concerned, either. Whenever a Ravens game isn’t broadcast in his native Ohio, he hears from enough folks back home to know that someone found the right channel or stream. “I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but they’re going to do it,” he said Tuesday. “When I’m playing, they shut down everything, for real.”
Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh’s parents might not know their way around Amazon Prime Video, he acknowledged Monday, but they don’t have to. They were going straight to the source.
On Thursday night, they’ll be watching the Ravens from their seats in Raymond James Stadium. They could find their way there, no problem.
How to watch Thursday’s game
Thursday night is the first Ravens game this season to be streamed on Amazon Prime, but it will also be viewable on WMAR (ABC/Ch. 2) in the Baltimore market.
To stream Thursday’s game on Amazon Prime:
- Open the Prime Video app on your device.
- Sign in. If you’re not a Prime member, sign up for a free 30-day trial at amazon.com/Prime.
- Find Thursday Night Football from the homepage, search bar, sports section or “Live & Upcoming” carousel.
- Tap on that day’s game.
- Press play.