By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Seeing the success that Twitter is having broadcasting professional sports events like Thursday Night Football, Amazon Prime is looking to get into the game with a proposed premium sports package for Prime members, making their $99 a year membership deal even more attractive.
“My sense is they are interested in anything that might be out there.” – Chad Swofford, vice president of digital for the ACC college-sports conference, The Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon has been in talks with the NBA, Major League Baseball, and the NFL to provide a premium streaming of sports leagues, along with coverage of soccer, lacrosse and even professional surfing. Amazon recently hired Sports Illustrated executive James DeLorenzo to spearhead the effort, as well as former DISH Network executive Sunil Dave, who was in charge of sports programming.
Amazon has also been talking to Univision about streaming Mexican soccer leagues that it doesn’t air, and niche sports carried by ESPN including hockey leagues, and also college sports. There’s even talk that they paid $10,000 for a tender document to bid for cricket games coming out of the Premiere League in India.
But the centerpiece would be a premium sports package centered on the NFL, NBA and MLB made available to Amazon Prime Members as part of their annual $99 a year subscription. The package would include regional games under the NBA’s League Pass, NFL Game Pass, and others.
The only thing that stands in the way of such a deal happening is that rights for the main sports are tied up until the 2024 season for the NBA, which also has an exclusive content deal with Twitter, and for the NFL, who’s broadcast deals come up for renegotiation at the end of the decade.
Prime could also be competition for Twitter when their one-year deal to stream Thursday Night Football expires at the end of the season, and the NBA when it ends in 2018. Meanwhile, they could get their feet wet with smaller sports to gain a foothold, and then be a player when negotiations start up again.
Details are sparse, but vary from live streaming, to repackaging replays after the games for an extra price to Prime members. The there’s also talk of offering a so-called “skinny bundle” that would provide live streaming of the sports channels at a lower price. But really, when you consider that the benefits of Amazon Prime continue to expand, the $99 a year subscription fee is the way to go.
Not only for streaming, which includes original series programming like the Emmy winning Transparent, The Man in the High Castle, and The Grand Tour, starring former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May (which broke Amazon’s streaming records with its premiere episode).
But Prime also gives members other benefits, including unlimited cloud photo storage, free shipping on all Amazon purchases, and even Kindle eBook lending privileges. Throw in a live premium sports package, and cord cutters will be lining up to get that deal.
Live sports has been one of the things that has kept people like me from cutting the cord completely. I enjoy watching the NFL and NCAA football. Live events like sports, broadcast news, and events are really the only reasons why I’ve been waiting for a solid option for me to finally cancel my DIRECTV subscription.
Twitter’s partial coverage of this season’s games on NFL Thursday Night Football has been one small step in that direction, but it has a ways to go. If Amazon can score a deal with the NFL, along with the NBA and MLB to stream games, then I may finally have my reason to cut the cord.
The real key for cord cutters though, will be the quality and consistency of their internet connection. With live sports, action doesn’t buffer, so if you’re watching an evening game, the stream could end up downrezing, or even missng the action if you end up in a buffer loop. There was an attempt to offer Fox regional sports through Sling TV and the Apple TV, but many decided to cancel the service because their internet connection couldn’t handle the load.
But even if it does, be under no illusion that doing so will save money. Data is already showing that when you pay for premium services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and others, then add in the rising cost of internet subscription rates by ISPs as a result, cord cutting really isn’t saving you anything. And don’t be surprised if Amazon Prime sees a price increase if any of this happens. But it does eliminate one bill. And that’s something.