The Amazon expansion into sports continues. That company has picked up quite a few rights for its Prime Video streaming service, including Thursday Night Football and the ONE Championship MMA promotion, and they’ve also added documentaries and sports talk. Now, they’ve signed a deal with basketball league Overtime Elite (a 2021-founded six-team, Atlanta-based league for 16-to-20 year old players that guarantees each player at least $100,000 a year) for exclusive global streaming rights for 20 games a year over the next three seasons. The first broadcast on Prime Video will take place this Friday (Nov. 4), featuring the Falcons against the City Reapers.
The deal also includes Amazon investing in Overtime through its Series D funding round. Previously, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had invested in Overtime last year (along with the likes of Alexis Ohanian, Drake, and Kevin Durant), but through his personal investment firm rather than Amazon.
This deal will also include a season-long unscripted series in addition to game content. Here’s more on that from an Overtime release:
Today, Prime Video and Overtime Elite (OTE) announced a multiyear agreement giving Prime Video exclusive global streaming rights to 20 live games per season for the next three seasons, beginning November 4, making Prime Video OTE’s first global media rights partner. In addition to broadcast rights, Prime Video will exclusively stream a season-long unscripted series set to debut in mid-2023. Amazon has also made an investment in Overtime as part of its Series D funding round.
…“This collaboration with Prime Video is an exciting move for Overtime Elite, affording us the opportunity to reach even more sports fans.” said Dan Porter, Overtime co-founder and CEO. “Prime Video has separated themselves as the premier live-sports streaming service, and we are thrilled to showcase Overtime Elite and our fan-first approach in front of Amazon’s global audience.”
“Like Overtime, we hold a mutual commitment to serving the next generation of sports fans, and we are proud to join Overtime on their journey as the league continues to see tremendous growth,” said Marie Donoghue, vice president of global sports video at Amazon.
The 20 OTE games will air live on Prime Video on Friday and Saturday nights, broadcast from OTE Arena in Atlanta. The larger on-air broadcast team will include AMP, the sports-and-gaming-focused social media group boasting over 2 million followers across platforms.
Here’s a video the companies put out promoting this:
— Prime Video (@PrimeVideo) November 2, 2022
There are a few notable things with this deal that maybe indicate some sports plans for Amazon in the future. For one, this is a global deal. Much of the U.S. coverage of Prime Video understandably focuses on what’s available to watch in that market, which is Amazon’s biggest market. But global is important for them as well, especially for future growth.
A July Motley Fool piece cited Amazon ending the first half of 2022 with 173 million U.S. Prime members (as per Consumer Intelligence Research Partners), a similar number to six months previously. It’s unclear exactly how many paid memberships that involves. It’s also unclear how many global members they have recently, but an Amazon number in 2020 put that at more than 200 million. So global is small relative to the U.S. right now, but it’s a place with more potential future growth (the U.S. population is only 332.4 million as of a Jan. 2022 estimate). And both U.S. and global signups from video in particular have been a big emphasis for Amazon lately, with chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky addressing a couple key properties there specifically during an earnings conference call last week:
“We also debuted the two largest Prime Video releases ever. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power attracted more than 25 million global viewers on its first day. And in the first two months since its launch, Rings of Power has driven more Prime sign-ups globally than any other Amazon Original.”
“NFL Thursday Night Football also premiered in September, averaging more than 15 million viewers during its first broadcast, and driving the three biggest hours of U.S. Prime sign-ups in the history of Amazon.”
A deal with Overtime Elite seems unlikely to be on that scale. But landing global live sports rights is still a big deal, especially considering how many sports rights are fragmented country-by-country. And Amazon also investing in the company is significant, as that gives them plenty of reason to stick with Overtime and promote their product. There haven’t traditionally been a lot of leagues with broadcaster ownership or equity, but that’s changing a bit lately, including with the Fox Sports-owned USFL. We’ll see how this deal works out for both sides.