December 23, 2020
Amazon Prime Video, unlike Netflix and Disney+, live-streams sports. The free SVOD component of the Prime membership e-commerce platform currently features the U.K.’s Premier League soccer and NFL Thursday Night Football. Now, media reports say the streamer is eyeing Formula One auto racing owned by Liberty Media.
The potential distribution agreement would see Prime Video streaming select races targeting the younger F1 fans accustomed to streaming entertainment rather than watching pay-TV.
“[Amazon is] an incredibly important potential partner and an opportunity for us to expand and grow our business,” Chase Carey, CEO of F1, told the Financial Times. While Amazon has made no official comment on a possible deal, Comcast’s Sky satellite TV distributor currently pays about $250 million annually through 2024 to broadcast F1 races. The sport has myriad regional broadcast deals around the world.
Amazon current foray into motoring includes original series “The Grand Tour” featuring the cast from BBC’s “Top Gear.”
Carey said that with most broadcasters incorporating proprietary streaming services, Prime Video would make a perfect fit. The direct input on a deal from the former CEO of 21st Century Fox only extends until the end of the month when he turns over chief executive duties to Stefano Domenicali, boss at carmaker Lamborghini. Carey remains chairman of F1, which Liberty Media acquired for $8 billion in 2016.
But with the coronavirus pandemic causing havoc to big attendance events like F1 racing, Liberty has had to infuse $1.4 billion in the league this year just to keep the lights on.
Carey said transferring F1 to live streaming would take baby steps with a fan base accustomed to following the sport via pay-TV, including those “who probably are not quite accustomed to watching their major favorite sporting events on a digital platform.”
F1, like most professional sports leagues, launched its own SVOD platform in 2018. Having it directly available on Prime Video would open the platform up to more than 100 million Prime members. Netflix recently launched a documentary series on F1 called Drive to Survive.
“Now people want a 24/7 experience,” Mehul Kapadia, COO of Motorsport Network told FT. “[The question is] how can you make your fans feel like they’re in the driver’s seat? That’s how the potential of the sport can be unlocked more.”