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How Amazon Might Change Televised Sports

Derek Walborn

In its quest for viewership dominance, Amazon Prime Video continues to gobble up the rights to stream coveted sports content at a rapid clip. The last month alone has already seen the streaming giant secure exclusive rights for “Thursday Night Football” in a multi-billion dollar deal with the NFL beginning as soon as next year, as well as a partnership with the New York Yankees in which they will be carrying 21 games during the regular season. Games from both leagues will not require any additional fees from Prime Video subscribers.

Both of these deals still currently allow fans some options with regard to access to games, with the Yankees games in particular also available on the YES Network. However, this reveals a growing trend in which sports broadcasts are moving in a direction that resembles the path taken by movies and TV with different carriers scrambling for exclusive national and regional streams to bolster their viewership and strengthen their content portfolio.

The pieces are adding up. With Amazon’s acquisition of “Thursday Night Football,” the company now has an exclusive slice of America’s premier sports league. The Yankees deal allows Amazon access to the most valuable sports property in the country’s biggest city. Internationally, Amazon has been securing deals for broadcasts of soccer and cricket matches.

With its seemingly bottomless pockets and tremendous built-in audience thanks in part to Prime Video being included with every Prime membership, the company could very well be the next sports broadcasting empire.

How might Amazon change the game

Amazon will have to quickly prove itself to be worthy of the crown, and it may very well look to do so by providing a wealth of options and outside-the-box ideas when it comes to how viewers can choose to watch games. The company could incorporate local radio programming into their feeds to cater to audiences familiar with their own regional flavor. Another option might be an announcer-free broadcast, so you could watch the game without endless banter.

Speaking of announcers, Amazon will need to hire some.

For “Thursday Night Football,” the company is largely expected to play it safe for its traditional view by hiring big names and familiar faces. However, we might see another curveball yet as the news unfolds. Amazon has already created the first woman-led NFL broadcast team in its hiring of Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer.

As the next couple of years unfold, we can expect Amazon to experiment and see what sticks with viewers in an effort to not just secure more deals and continue to position itself as a the number one source for sports content, but also differentiate itself by giving fans a few things they haven’t seen before. A potential wild card NFL playoff game as well as a Thanksgiving day exclusive game are up for grabs if the company meets the league’s viewership requirements, which will undoubtedly lead to a furious marketing campaign.

The company has the means to take a few risks and would do well to shake things up a little bit. Things could get interesting!

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