Broadcasting live sport: a new frontier for Amazon?
Our TV habits are changing. They have been for some time now. More and more of us are choosing to view content when it is most convenient to us. We are no longer bound by the rigid television schedule and making it home for a live broadcast of our favourite shows. Online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are primarily responsible for this shift in viewing habits and have given us greater freedom when opting to ‘pod down’ and watch.
However, not content with purely revolutionising the way we watch films and television programmes, Amazon Prime have launched their most ambitious move to date: venturing into the world of broadcasting live sport. It’s a surprising move that will certainly take some getting used to, but surely a challenge to the BBC, Sky and BT monopoly of televised sport can only be a positive thing for viewers.
Securing the rights to televised Premier League football is valued as a multi-billion-pound opportunity, so it’s clear why Amazon have chosen to put their proverbial finger into another pie. Football television rights, particularly in the UK, is a lucrative business. As of the 2019/20 football season, Amazon will be showcasing a package of 20 games from England’s top-flight, first with a midweek offering at the start of December and then with games taking place on Boxing Day.
Although this first tentative step into broadcasting Premier League football is not a wide-reaching one, it is a statement of intent and an astute acquisition. Not only have Amazon signalled their plans to purchase more rights to sporting events (with several broadcasting agreements up for renewal within the next ten years), it has also been purposefully done around Christmas in the hope of capitalising on the busiest time of year and seeing an upsurge in Prime membership. While some customers will undoubtedly end their free trial having spent nothing, other users will either forget or be inclined to maintain their subscription – which is what Amazon are counting on.
Murdoch Acknowledges Amazon’s Aggression in the Market
The ambition shown by Amazon to compete in a notoriously expensive and competitive market, may go some way to shedding light on why it is Rupert Murdoch decided to sell part of his media behemoth, Sky.
It is true that this was a necessary evil in order to secure a deal with Disney, but the dramatic shift in television habits most definitely played a part. The sale of Sky ultimately means that Murdoch’s Fox will be left with more content that he perceives won’t be susceptible to online streaming giants in the same way that sport will be. The Premier League is a competition that has been dominated by Sky since its inaugural season 26 years ago, and although BT have disrupted this somewhat in recent times, Amazon’s venture into sport will provide them with a much larger fright.
Problems Aplenty with the US Open Coverage
Amazon’s decision to battle market leaders such as the BBC, Sky and BT head on should come as no surprise seeing as they spent a reported £31 million on securing the television rights for the US Open. However, the first foray into the world of sport was met with widespread complaints from tennis fanatics as their viewing experience was compromised by substandard coverage. Viewers complained of poor picture and sound quality, obscured camera angles and restricted match choice, among many other things. If Amazon are hoping to truly capitalise and establish themselves as a genuine competitor in the live broadcasting of sports, their coverage will have to improve. Especially if they have any hope of recouping initial investment to secure these deals in the first place as Amazon Prime memberships start at £79.
Concerns over the coverage have been quelled by Amazon spokespeople, stating that their coverage of the ATP men’s tennis circuit should run a lot smoother at the beginning of 2019, with any potential glitches ironed out by the time they start to show Premier League games in the 2019/20 season.