ThinkOTB Agency

Broadcasting live sport: a new frontier for Amazon?

October 1, 2018

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. Gone are the days of 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. They have given us greater freedom when opting to ‘pod down’ and watch. 

Not content with purely revolutionising the way we watch films and television programmes, Amazon Prime are expanding. They 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, this challenge to the BBC, Sky and BT monopoly of televised sport can only be a positive thing for viewers. It’ll also lead to a whole new range of sport marketing that we can’t wait to see.

Premier League football

Securing the rights to Premier League football is 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 Prime sports will be a real gamechanger. They will be showcasing a package of 20 games from England’s top-flight. It’s starting with a midweek offering in December and continuing with games taking place on Boxing Day. 

This first tentative step into broadcasting Premier League football is not a wide-reaching one. But, it is a statement of intent and an astute acquisition. Not only has Amazon Prime signalled their plans to purchase more rights to sports events (with several live sport broadcasting agreements up for renewal within the next ten years), it has also been purposefully done around Christmas. They’re hoping to 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 want to maintain their subscription. This is exactly what Amazon are counting on. Their sport marketing plan is very clever, but we’d expect nothing less from these industry giants.

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. He perceives this content 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 under Sky’s control since its inaugural season 26 years ago. Although BT have disrupted this somewhat in recent times, Amazon Prime’s venture into sports 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. They spent a reported £31 million on securing the television rights for the US Open. However, their first foray into the world of sport came with many complaints. Tennis fanatics were angry 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 Prime are hoping to truly become 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. Amazon Prime memberships start at £79, so it will need a fair few new customers! 

Amazon spokespeople are keen to quell concerns over the coverage. They state that their coverage of the ATP men’s tennis circuit should run a lot smoother at the beginning of 2019. Amazon claim any potential glitches ironed out by the time they start to show Premier League games in the 2019/20 season. They seek to be the new frontier for broadcasting live sport, and we’re not going to bet against them or their sport marketing.


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