Amazon Prime Video Strikes Out in Pandemic Shortened MLB Season

Lost in the euphoria of Major League Baseball’s July 23 return during the coronavirus pandemic: Amazon Prime Video’s scuttled attempt to stream select New York Yankees games — a first for the e-commerce behemoth.

When Amazon became part owner of the Yankees’ YES regional cable network, it earned rights to stream 21 games, including three against the Boston Red Sox. With the MLB shortening the season to 60 games from the traditional 162, a provision in the revised schedule prohibits third-party streaming of any local TV game broadcasts — a situation that also impacts Hulu’s agreement with Chicago Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network.

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Of the games Amazon could stream, YES Network chose to control all of them rather than simulcast with Prime Video

“Given the unique circumstances surrounding this season, YES Network will televise all New York Yankees games not airing on the national networks,” Amazon said in a statement. “We’ll evaluate our plans at the conclusion of this season.”

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Indeed, Amazon could follow Google-owned YouTube TV, which in February announced it would no longer carry Fox Regional Sports Networks, which included YES Network.

In a post on Twitter at the time, YouTube said it acquired rights from Sinclair Broadcasting to simulcast select games to Prime members.

“Despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair,” said YouTube. “As a result, we will no longer offer Fox Regional Sports Networks, including YES Network,” YouTube said in a tweet.

In a subsequent tweet, the streamer said it didn’t take the decision “lightly,” arguing the impasse was largely a reflection of the rising cost of sports content.

“You may have noticed several other TV services have also decided to remove Fox Regional Sports Networks from their lineups,” YouTube said. 


YouTube Remains No. 1 Video Platform (Except in China)

Google-owned YouTube was the most-popular video platform in the third quarter of 2019 — a distinction the service has maintained since the advent of streaming media.

Ampere Analysis found that YouTube attracted the most eyeball globally, except in China, where government-backed services such as iQiYi reign supreme. Runner-ups included Netflix and Facebook.

London-based Ampere said YouTube (57%) also bested the BBC’s free iPlayer (55%) for the first time since 2016.

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Notably, Netflix has the highest user penetration (83%) in South Africa followed by the United States (68%), with Turkey generating the largest spike in subscriber usage (77% from 63%).

Overall, Ampere found 70% of Internet users in the U.S. and Europe have watched a video on a social video service in the last month — a 4% increase from the previous-year period. SVOD use has risen 8% to 55%.

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“The strength of short-form video is evident in YouTube’s dominant position as the most viewed in each market surveyed outside of China,” analyst Minal Modha said in a statement. “Looking at the Top 5, three of them are social video platforms which highlights its importance in the viewing mix for consumers.”