A strategy is being formed at the headquarters of Amazon regarding its vision for sports programming and more clues are starting to emerge about what this strategy may entail.
Last month, a job listing was posted on LinkedIn looking for a “Principal Content Acquisition Manager – Sports.” The job requires someone with:
- 10+ years of experience in licensing and/or business development in the sports media industry
- Strong relationships with senior level media executives at the major domestic and international sports leagues, associations, and organizations.
- A track record of success in the sports content licensing and/or business development arena.
These are just three bullet points among a list of other qualifications. In layman’s terms, Amazon is looking for a seasoned vet in the sports media industry who would be responsible with using their connections in order to bring live sporting events to their platform.
Amazon’s quest for sports rights should come as a shocker to no one. As we reported back in May, Amazon hired an executive to run a new sports division. James DeLorenzo came with sports experience as the former head of Sports Illustrated and MLB’s joint venture, 120 Sports. He was also previously in charge of a Hollywood movie studio which happened to own a sports agency.
But this job listing proves that Amazon doesn’t believe they have enough connections and stature yet to win sports rights, even if they have the money. Just this year, Amazon lost the Thursday Night Football digital package of games to Twitter despite bidding more money. Twitter won with a $10 million bid while Amazon bid $15 million.
While the company did not specifically mention sports, Amazon’s Chief Financial Officer Brian T. Olsavsky said during their latest earnings call that Amazon is doubling their content spend in the second half of this year versus the second half of 2015. Olsavsky made similar comments in the last quarter according to Business Insider:
“One of the larger investments is our content spend … We like the results because we see better engagements, better free trial conversions from Prime members who use the video service,” Olsavsky said. “We’re going to significantly increase our content spend, some of it is in Q2 guidance, but we’ll be expecting more of it in the backend of the year certainly.”
All of this means money is no object for the technology giant.
But most major sports rights have already been signed and run all the way into the next decade. This begs the question — what sports rights are the central focus of Amazon’s efforts that forced them to open up this new position? Could it be the NFL Thursday Night Football rights which expire again after the 2016 regular season? Or does Amazon want to take a run at Twitter’s strategy of acquiring sports content that isn’t of high demand but can draw a new audience i.e. collegiate Olympic sports, non-Power 5 college football games and NBA highlights shows?
In a recent poll taken among sports executives by Sports Business Journal, 50 percent of respondents said they subscribed to Amazon Prime. There is a familiarity within the ranks of people Amazon could potentially negotiate with of their brand. With this new job opening, Amazon is looking to deepen the relationships it has with these potential clients beyond just being a personal user.