It seems inevitable that sometime in the not-too-distant future, American viewers will watch live sports through online streaming services at least as much as they watch them on traditional television. The question is: which tech giants will be airing sports and which will miss the boat?
The world’s largest online retailer has expressed interest in sports with global appeal, such as tennis, golf, soccer and auto racing, said the people, who took part in talks and asked not to be identified discussing private business plans. Amazon is also interested in popular U.S. sports, such as basketball and baseball, though most rights are unavailable for the foreseeable future.
Amazon has built up its TV- and movie-streaming operation to rival Netflix and apparently thinks it could take the next leap with a foray into sports rights. While the company seems to be starting small in the sports it targets (at least from an American perspective), earning rights to the French Open would signal that Amazon is serious about sports.
Of course, the competition for sports right will be fierce in the coming years, from not only the networks that traditionally air sports but also from online properties that are increasingly dabbling in sports streaming.
Last October, Yahoo streamed its first NFL game, earning 15.2 million unique viewers. Meanwhile, Twitter will stream 10 Thursday Night Football games this month. Amazon’s focus on internationally appealing events could differentiate it from some of its competitors, but all these services will likely end up competing for rights at some point.
Regardless, Amazon’s reported interest in sports streaming makes clear that networks like ESPN, Fox, NBC and the rest now have to view online powers as true rivals in the unending battle for sports broadcast rights.