August 20, 2021
NEWS ANALYSIS — Amazon Prime Video, unlike other subscription streaming pioneers Netflix and Hulu, has never shied away from live sports. In addition to a smattering of New York Yankees games and sponsorship of Major Soccer League’s Seattle Sounders, Amazon’s biggest deal in the U.S. involved securing exclusive rights to “NFL Thursday Night Football,” featuring the first-ever female broadcast team.
In Europe, Amazon made headlines securing exclusive broadcast rights to French soccer’s top Ligue 1. The league received a surprise boost Aug. 10 when Argentina’s Lionel Messi, often considered the greatest soccer player ever, left Spain’s FC Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain in a two-year deal.
“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain,” Messi said in a statement.
Overnight, Amazon’s gamble on French soccer would appear to have struck gold. Messi, a six-time Ballon d’Or winner, could play in PSG’s match against Brest on Aug. 21.
Amazon swooped up Ligue 1 rights at a discount (275 million euros/$321 million) with professional soccer across Europe dealing with the fiscal fallout from the pandemic that has resulted in shuttered stadiums and zero ticket/concessions revenue. Prime Video typically includes live sports at no additional charge to subscribers.
For Ligue 1 access, Prime Video is charging subs an additional 13 euros ($15.18) monthly, on top of the 6 euros ($7) base Prime membership fee.
Observers contend Amazon needs 1.2 million subscribers to break even on Ligue 1. Prime Video currently has about 4.5 million French subs; and 175 million worldwide.
“Amazon proved agile in buying the rights on the cheap, but it still has to demonstrate it can leverage them to significantly increase its e-commerce business footprint,” Francois Godard, analyst at Enders Analysis, wrote in a recent note.