Amazon is continuing to expand the reach of the company and now is now looking into buying professional sports rights.
The sports rights for the big professional leagues are locked up through 2020. Traditional media players such as Disney, CBS, Comcast’s NBC and AT&T’s DirecTV and Time Warner dominate the landscape.
When current rights deals expire, tech giants could conceivably outbid the traditional media players for exclusive or digital-only rights, assuming the leagues themselves are willing to abandon traditional partners.
Amazon almost certainly doesn’t want to be in the long-term business of running cable networks with declining programming fee growth. But Amazon could buy the networks and then simply phase them out over time, according to BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield. Amazon could then offer the games “exclusively available to Amazon Prime subscribers or offer it is an add-on Amazon Channel,” Greenfield wrote in a note to clients last month.
If packaged with Amazon Prime, broadcasting regional games exclusively could help persuade customers to keep subscribing to the service. Further, it increases digital advertising opportunities for Amazon, which is growing its market share against Facebook and Google. Perhaps most importantly, it brings even more people into the Amazon tent, exposing them to all of the products and services Amazon offers.
It is still unclear whether Amazon will acquire these rights but it certainly is something to look out for. If Amazon gains control of these sports rights they will have a monopoly on the viewing experience of professional sports. Imagine if the only way you could watch the NFL on Sunday was through Amazon. Imagine if the only way you could watch the MLB was through Amazon.
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