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Can Amazon change the sports rights model?
- Updated: April 7, 2017
Amazon enters the world of sports media with the addition of “Thursday Night Football.” LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
Over the last 10 months, we’ve been following Amazon’s move into obtaining live sports. From the original push seeking live sports to almost obtaining NBA League Pass to finally winning the rights to the highly sought Thursday Night Football streaming package, Amazon now is a destination for sports fans. And there’s no end in sight to what Amazon can bring to the table if it continues to be in buying mode.
Amazon reportedly bid $ 50 million for this year’s rights to ten TNF games. That’s five times what Twitter paid for the same amount of games last year. And while Twitter made money on the deal, it appears that Amazon could make even more despite its increased rights fee.
“If this goes well, it’s the NFL’s precursor step to becoming a true a la carte offering,” O’Neill said. “Maybe on Amazon or maybe another platform, maybe its own platform. I think all content creators eventually are going to go to their own platforms. It’s not necessarily going to be something they build in-house, but it’s going to go direct to consumers. There’s a huge chance of that.”
Let’s say Amazon is successful with Thursday Night Football. Unlike the NFL’s previous streaming deals with Yahoo and Twitter, this year’s games will be available to Amazon Prime Video subscribers only.
With Yahoo and Twitter, streams were available to anyone. But with Amazon making the streams available globally, it has a estimated built-in audience of 60 million worldwide as compared to Twitter which had to build one from scratch.
Another advantage that Amazon has over Twitter is the fact that it’s already available on connected TV settops across the U.S. while Twitter was not considered a livestream app.
Twitter has been signing deals for live sports, but can it be sustained? Amazon is in a place that might be the best model for potential partners. Not only does it have content, but it can also link viewers to buy jerseys, team-related gear and plenty of other merchandise on Amazon.
And it can use the advertising opportunities on Thursday Night Football to promote its original programming on Amazon Prime and potentially link viewers to different ads geared to different viewers at the same time. If that’s successful, that opens up a whole new mode of online advertising.
With Amazon looking for additional live sports programming, there’s no limit to what it can bid for. NFL Sunday Ticket could be an option with a whole section devoted to every game, each with a special individual store, ads and perhaps even the local radio calls as well. There’s also the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot which could also have a role in the live streams.
There’s a lot of potential that Amazon can tap as a rights-holder and we’re going to be hearing more about its plans for its slate of Thursday Night Football games as the season gets closer. The opportunity for innovation is endless.
Amazon has the cash and the infrastructure to stream live sports so this likely won’t be the last time we’ll be reporting on the site.