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Could Amazon be a surprise contender for Premier League bidding rights in US?

epl rights

As many have written, the bidding for the Premier League rights in the United States will be intense.  With NBC growing the property to incredible heights and the popularity of the sport skyrocketing, the next rounding of bidding could lead to ESPN, NBC, and Fox “splashing” a lot of cash for the league rights.  However, fans should not discount a different kind of bidder – Amazon.

This article is not written with any inside intelligence or knowledge of the ongoing negotiations.  What it is written with, however, is knowledge of how media consumption is changing and how companies like Amazon are taking advantage of it.

To deviate from the soccer for a moment, online companies like Amazon (and to a lesser extent Netflix and Hulu) use a brick-and-mortar sales strategy already used by Sam’s Club and Costco to turn a profit.  By charging a membership fee, the company can charge a lower rate for products but instead depend on the need of customers to belong to receive these discounts to make money.  For Costco, that is a membership fee, and for Amazon that is Amazon Prime.  The yearly fee is more than just the ability for customers to receive free two-day shipping; rather, it is a revenue stream for the company that allows it to keep prices relatively low and still please stockholders.

As you may have noticed if you’re a Prime member, Amazon now offers non-product benefits like free streaming of certain movies and free unlimited photo storage.  Again, the cost to the company of rights and bandwidth is offset by the membership fee, and the relationship is reciprocal.  That is why Amazon is experimenting in original content and movies, because if it succeeds more people will pay the fee regardless of increases.

Now let’s bring soccer back into this.  Amazon has experience in producing “television” shows and soon movies.  They have the ability and capital (we assume) to create a platform to stream EPL games in the U.S.  NBC already streams all of the matches online, so Amazon could either eliminate the terrestrial option or partner with a network to show a few games with Amazon  branding.

Considering how expensive the rights will be, how can they afford to compete with ESPN and NBC?  Two options.  First, they could charge people to purchase a viewing package of all the games or certain games.  This would likely be a loser financially and would not be appealing to the league.  Option two would be, however.  Amazon would stream all matches for free, for Prime members.  Now non-Prime customers for Amazon would have to purchase the yearly access to watch their games, and Amazon could begin to offset their cost through the yearly fees it would gain.  And, since the valuea of the membership increased, naturally it could justify an increase from the current $99 fee.  Such a scenario could apply to a number of streaming sites, although Amazon is probably best positioned for this model.

Amazon is not in the pole position to win the EPL rights this time around.  It is however well positioned to compete for rights of other leagues or competitions in an era when television consumption is decreasing.  It is inevitable that a league one day will entrust its viewing rights to an online company, it is just a matter of who will take the leap.  Just don’t think its the online companies like Amazon that aren’t ready for this new day.

 

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. mark williamson

    April 8, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    I think that NBC brings so much more to the table than just the highest bid they could offer. I also think that the Premier League realizes this. Money talks, but i think NBC’s tremendous results speak very loud and clear that they are in the position to grow football even more than it has done thus far.

  2. Jessica

    April 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    If this were to happen, the Premier League would lose many fans and tear apart the growth it has gained here. Viewership numbers would be low. I hope no league does this. It’s bad for the fans.

  3. StellaWasAlwaysDown

    April 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    EPL…it’s on Fire! Get yours today!

    Seriously though, I hope NBC continues. FOX sucked. But if I would be happy if someone could consolidate what we all really want which is the big leagues and cups under one roof. I don’t like having to subscribe to 5 different services for one sport. I want to be able to watch Bundesliga or EPL and a cup match and not feel like I’m out $100.

  4. Rick

    April 8, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Lets hope NBC wins the rights and continues the great coverage. What’s lacking on their coverage is a nightly highlight/news show that is similar to the old Fox Soccer Report. NBC needs to expose the league more instead of just on game days.

  5. Guy

    April 8, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I know past is prologue and all that, but who’s to say ESPN doesn’t pair up with NBC? Maybe NBC would like a little financial help as the bidding is sure to be insane…..and if you’re ESPN, who would you rather be matched with right now, Fox or NBC?

    It’s a fluid world out there with zero loyalties other than to the profit margin. Absolutely nothing would surprise me.

    • CTBlues

      April 8, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      ESPN doesn’t like NBC because they are owned by Comcast.

  6. t

    April 8, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Anyone But Fox

  7. rcs

    April 8, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Don’t see either Google, Apple, or Amazon involved in the bidding for US EPL rights without a partner.

    Richard Scudamore has the ability to reject the highest bid if he (and the 20 clubs) believe that the highest bidder does not have the ability to reach a wide-enough audience.

    We already know that:

    1. NBC Sports (Comcast) will bid on its own. If push comes to shove, NBC Sports can discard non-essential properties (i.e. Roland Garros tennis, Formula 1, ASO pro cycling including Le Tour de France and La Vuelta a Espana) to come up with enough cash.

    2. FOX Sports will likely bid, with ESPN as a sublicense partner unless ESPN decides to partner with someone else.

    3. Univision will only be involved as an EPL sublicensee if it can find a partner (because La Liga fits better on Univision Deportes Network than EPL, Univision will bid for US rights to La Liga first before deciding what to do with EPL.)

    4. CBS is NOT likely to bid (because CBS Sports Network is in less than 50 million households and CBS already has too much on its plate with 2 NFL packages and NCAA basketball.)

    5. Turner Sports (Time Warner) is not likely to bid because Turner doesn’t have a national sports channel and EPL is a poor fit for truTV.

    6. Because beIN doesn’t reach enough US households (less than 20 million), beIN will need a partner with bigger reach if it wants any piece of US rights to EPL.

    • Jeff

      April 8, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      I’m pretty sure the T&Cs in the tender document that gets sent to all interested bidders states the EPL must accept the highest bid (providing that bid is within the guidelines for the package/s in question)

  8. ToneTime

    April 8, 2015 at 9:12 am

    NBC will only get better. No way they put all that work and effort in, to just be out bid by some other network (especially fox). NC will spare no expense with the next round of bidding.

  9. Smokey Bacon

    April 8, 2015 at 8:31 am

    No thanks. I dont want to be asked if I’m interested in a Prime account every two minutes. Or worse, based on your viewing of Liverpool versus Chelsea, perhaps you would be interested in a copy of John Terry’s autobiography, or a CD of YNWA.

    • jtm371

      April 8, 2015 at 9:23 am

      YNSA the new Liverpool anthem.

      You’ll Never Slip Alone

      No to amazon yes to NBC! 🙂

  10. Steve

    April 8, 2015 at 8:04 am

    No no no no no

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Online streaming will NEVER be as good as regular TV.

    I don’t think NBC will be beaten in the bidding war, they have done a great job and put too much work in.

    • CTBlues

      April 8, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      How can you say online streaming will never be as good as regular TV? The only reason I could assume that you say that is the internet service in your area is terrible.

      • Jasinho

        April 8, 2015 at 12:49 pm

        And how many of us could say that live internet streaming can be just as reliable as TV delivery? Have you noticed the delay even on the LiveExtra? Not all of us upgraded to computers that have 2GB of RAM and an SSD drive.

        FireTV and PrimeVideo is good, but is not a replacement.

        • CTBlues

          April 8, 2015 at 1:06 pm

          I watch MLB.tv on my Roku 3 in HD with no issues, but the MLB was the first to do live streaming and has the best live streaming service anywhere and that is why HBO is using it for HBO NOW.

          If you also read his comment he says “NEVER” and that implies the future and I’m sorry but I can’t believe that some point in the near future that streaming services won’t be a reliable as regular TV.

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