First it was free movies for Prime members, then it was the ability to add premium channels a la carte and now it seems that sports TV could be the next addition to Amazon’s ever-widening streaming programming line-up.
Recently, the Internet giant has been in talks with such sports organizations as the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League in the hopes of securing the rights to carry live games. Sports is the one area that Amazon’s streaming service has been lacking, but that hurdle may be the hardest to overcome.
Exclusive Sports Deals Remain Elusive for Amazon
Although college games and international sports networks may be no problem to secure agreements with, professional American sports are different.
They often make agreements with networks that last decades. For example, the NBA currently has a television deal with ESPN and TNT that doesn’t terminate until the 2024-25 season, and the NFL is in deals with ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC through the end of the decade. This makes it difficult for Amazon to get a toehold in on exclusive sports programming, which is, in part, what’s keeping cable television packages buoyed.
If Amazon is able to secure this type of content, it’ll be able to go after those reluctant cable subscribers who would rather cut the cord, but not at the expense of their local sports teams. It’s rumored that Amazon may be building a team meant to conquer this hurdle considering it has recently brought James DeLorenzo, a former Sports Illustrated executive, and Sunil Dave, formerly of Dish Network on board. Dave was charged with negotiating with sports networks at the satellite company.
Other Ways to Secure Live Sports
Since exclusive agreements with major American sports leagues may be out of reach, Amazon is also pursuing alternative arrangements so it can package and carry some sports content.
For example, it has been in talks with Univision to carry any Mexican Soccer League games that aren’t aired. Amazon has also been pursuing less familiar sports like lacrosse, surfing and cricket.
Anonymous sources inside Amazon report that the Internet retailer is currently exploring a number of avenues for sports programming, but may ultimately opt to license channels like ESPN until more exclusive options are available. Amazon’s unique platform may make it easier for sports retailers to target appropriate advertising to sports enthusiasts, further increasing its profitability.