Amazon Prime Video’s NFL Deal Ends; League Coy on Successor

Amazon Prime Video has streamed NFL Thursday Night Football for the past two seasons. Whether that groundbreaking deal is renewed remains up in the air, according to media reports.

Prime Video, unlike Netflix or Hulu, has embraced live sports recently signing exclusive rights to English Premier League soccer. The New York Yankees reportedly are in discussions with Amazon to become the first MLB team to stream games directly to viewers who don’t have a pay-TV subscription.

The NFL is concerned whether Amazon can handle the capacity required to stream games to millions of viewers simultaneously — an interesting concern considering ESPN’s challenges streaming the Clemson, LSU college football national championship game on Jan. 13.

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“What Amazon’s doing over the next few weeks in the U.K. with their Premier League package will be very interesting to watch,” Brian Rolapp, EVP of media with the NFL, told a confab last month, as reported by Sports Business Daily. “They’re getting some pretty high ‘concurrents’ there.”

Rolapp said the NFL doubted any streaming service had the capacity to handle 25 million people simultaneously streaming a single game, much less in high-definition.

“It’s not just technical capacity the league is looking for. Production and promotion are just as important, he said. “In order to hold an NFL package, you’re … going to have to be able to distribute it at a high level of quality — no fan is going to accept less than HD, high-res all the time. You’re going to have to sell it from an advertising standpoint and market it. So we need to see that from any partner, and be satisfied with that before we entrust any game package to them.”

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Regardless, it’s likely money will play as important consideration going forward. Both DAZN and YouTube TV have expressed interest in football, with the latter a sponsor and distributor of Major League Baseball post-season games and World Series.

DAZN, of course, inked an exclusive deal with Mexican fighter Canelo Alvarez worth a reported $365 million.

Rolapp told the confab the NFL remains primarily interested in reaching viewers and fans across multiple distribution channels.

“We will not sacrifice reach for something less valuable, including a higher rights fee,” he said. “We will maximize our reach. We think we can get both, but the reach is really important.”

 

Amazon Prime Video Expands Live Sports Programming

Amazon Prime Video, unlike Netflix and Hulu, is not afraid of live sports programming costs. The SVOD service live-streams NFL football and Major League Baseball games (New York Yankees) in the United States.

Now Prime Video has acquired rights to select UEFA Champions League soccer matches in Germany. The Champions League is an annual competition pitting professional clubs across Europe to determine the top team.

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Prime Video, beginning in 2021, will live-stream a selection 0f “first-pick” 16 matches. The Champions League rights are currently held by Comcast’s Sky Deutschland, which reportedly subcontracts streaming rights to DAZN, the boxing-centric platform.

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“We’re excited to bring UEFA Champions League football to our customers in Germany,” Alex Green, managing director, Prime Video Sport Europe, said in a statement. “The UEFA Champions League is one of the most prestigious club competitions in the world.”

Report: Amazon in Talks to Buy Majority Stake in Yankees’ YES Sports TV Network

Amazon and Sinclair Broadcast Group are reportedly in early discussions about a joint bid to acquire the New York Yankees’ YES regional sports TV network.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Amazon and Sinclair would be acquiring the 80% stake currently owned by The Walt Disney Co. – and valued from $5 billion to $6 billion. The Yankees own the other 20%.

Other possible YES suitors include pay-TV operator Altice USA and investor group RedBird Capital.

Amazon, unlike Netflix, is no stranger to live sports. It currently streams NFL Thursday Night Football on Prime Video, in addition to other sports internationally.

The talks are in the preliminary stage and face several challenges, including Major League Baseball’s streaming video platform, MLB.tv, and existing pay-TV distribution deals between the Yankees and Comcast, Altice and Charter Communications.

Disney assumed control of Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network LLC following its $71 billion acquisition of select 21stCentury Fox assets. In addition to carrying Yankees baseball, YES airs the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets basketball games, among other content.

Fox owns 21 another regional TV sports networks across the country, valued at around $15 billion.