One industry analyst is predicting that by 2022, Amazon will amass enough of an inventory to offer a sports bundle to customers. That’s one prediction made by CCS Insight made earlier this month.
With Amazon establishing a sports foothold in the United States (Thursday Night Football) and the United Kingdom (English Premier League, ATP Tour, U.S. Open tennis), one wonders where the tech company could go as more rights go up for bid in the next decade.
There’s the potential of NFL Sunday Ticket going up for bid as soon as 2020, and then there’s MLB’s deal which expires in 2021, NFL Monday Night Football in 2021 and the rest of the NFL the following year, NHL in 2022, the Big Ten in 2023 and the NBA in 2025.
Could Amazon attempt to get a piece of any or all of these rights? It will certainly be used by the sports leagues as leverage against the networks. As CCS writes, if successful in gaining a series of sports rights, Amazon may have to offer a separate bundle to support its programming:
“The company is forced to offer a bundle of sports programming for Prime customers to support its growing portfolio of broadcast rights. It expands its activities to become a fully fledged provider of sports programming, competing against local broadcasters in some countries. Access to its sporting output is offered as an optional add-on bundle to Amazon Prime Video. It may also introduce advertising to support its push into linear TV; another option could be event-based advertising.”
With Amazon having deep pockets, there’s no doubt that it could gain the streaming rights to various leagues, but would North American leagues be willing to follow the Premier League and give it exclusive rights to games?
With NFL TV ratings making a comeback this season after a couple of years of declines, there’s no doubt that TV has the reach that online streaming doesn’t, but as we have seen, money does the most talking in negotiations.
The question is can Amazon convince one or more leagues to gain exclusive rights? If that’s possible, then it will not only cause a huge effect, but also change viewing habits.
CCS is very bullish on its prediction and with Amazon’s spending in the recent past, it’s not hard to think that this could become reality. However, it remains to be seen which leagues will accept the smaller reach of exclusive streaming in return for more money.