Amazon Wins Exclusive U.K. Rights to Broadcast Some Premier League Matches

The auction for Premier League broadcast rights was held in February, but only Sky Sports and BT won partial rights at the time.

“We welcome Amazon as an exciting new partner, and we know Prime Video will provide an excellent service on which fans can consume the Premier League,” Richard Scudamore, the Premier League’s executive chairman, said in a statement on Thursday.

Neither Amazon nor the Premier League said how much the company had paid for the rights. But Sky said after the auction in February that it had paid 3.58 billion pounds, or about $4.8 billion, over three years for its matches, while BT Sport paid a total of £885 million.

Amazon Wins Exclusive U.K. Rights to Broadcast Some Premier League Matches
Amazon Wins Exclusive U.K. Rights to Broadcast Some Premier League Matches

The transformation of the broadcast landscape mirrors one a quarter-century ago. Sky was only three years old in 1992 when it bid more than £300 million for the rights to televise live top-flight soccer matches in Britain. At the time, the move stunned the world of soccer and gave Sky an identity. The huge influx of cash — several times what had previously been paid for equivalent rights — helped Premier League clubs lure top players from all over the world.

Digital media companies have long proclaimed an interest in sports rights, but they have largely failed to enter competitive bids for marquee properties. And while sports leagues are eager to increase the number of bidders, they have shown a reluctance to turn over rights wholesale to digital partners, preferring instead to craft deals that include digital streaming on top of traditional TV broadcasting.

But the format of the Premier League’s auction makes it easier for digital media companies to compete. While most large rights packages in the United States are for seven seasons or more, the Premier League offers only three-season blocks, lowering the get-in cost. The 200 Premier League games on offer were also split into seven packages of 32 or 20 games each, making it easier for Amazon to dip a toe in the water, albeit in a smaller market than the United States.

The revenue for the Premier League rights in Britain is supplemented by income from broadcast deals elsewhere, including in the United States, where NBC televises the matches, and in China, where the digital broadcaster PPTV holds the rights.

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