Browns Steelers Football

In this photo from Jan. 3, Steelers' running back Najee Harris is tackled by the Browns during a game in Pittsburgh.

Fans of the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers may find one of the biggest games of the early part of the NFL season hard to watch Thursday night.

Not because of sloppy play by either team, but how local football fans will be able to see it live.

Unlike in 2021, when Thursday night NFL games were on the Fox TV network and simulcast on the NFL Network, this year has Thursday night games on Amazon Prime Video. And this week’s game is only available live on Prime Video — unless you’re in the Pittsburgh or Cleveland areas.

To see the Browns-Steelers game, you’ll need access to Amazon Prime or a have very powerful TV antenna.

Both WPXI-TV Channel 11 in Pittsburgh and WEWS-TV Channel 5 in Cleveland will broadcast the game in their local markets. Neither channel is available on Armstrong cable which covers Crawford County.

It’s the first time that a streaming service has had season-long exclusive broadcasting rights with the National Football League.

This week’s game is the second of 15 Thursday night match-ups in the 2022 season to be streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime. There are only two exceptions to Amazon Prime having Thursday games. One was the Sept. 8 season kickoff game between the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Rams. The other is Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day, when CBS, Fox and NBC each will broadcast one game.

For local Browns and Steelers fans, it’s not surprising to see the broadcasting of games being changed.

“I think within a couple of years we’ll have to pay to watch the games,” said Jerry “Hooper” Higham, a long-time Browns fan. “There’s too much money to be made. It’s getting to that point.”

Higham said his household does have an Amazon Prime account so he’ll be able to watch Thursday’s game.

Joe Galbo, a long-time Steelers fan, agrees.

“It’s the wave of the future,” he said of the NFL moving toward pay-for-streaming services to watch games.

Galbo will watch the game, but said “my concern are the production values to a high profile game like this,” noting ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox have had decades of experience broadcasting pro football games.

“Amazon Prime is a start-up in terms of covering sports” when compared to the broadcast networks, he added.

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