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Amazon explores live sports rights

News, 12 September 2016

SEATTLE: Media companies who have held on to TV sports broadcasting rights as a way of stemming the shift to video streaming services may be concerned by news that Amazon is reportedly looking to secure rights to a wide range of sports.

According to Bloomberg, anonymous sources have revealed that the e-commerce giant has been holding discreet talks to buy the rights to popular global sports as well as US domestic sports, such as baseball and basketball.

Some of the global sports said to be under consideration include professional rugby and the French Open tennis championship, but could also include golf, motor racing and football.

Bloomberg's sources are reported to have taken part in the talks and they said the company has proposed offering selected events as part of Prime Video.

Amazon declined to comment, but it could mean the company would be able to enhance its streaming service by providing alerts to users when a particular sporting event or match begins.

It is suggested that casual fans would be content with what they receive from Amazon Prime, which has around 63m users in the US, while more serious sports fans would be encouraged to pay for the extra service.

Ken Solomon, CEO of Tennis Channel said the network, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, has had broad discussions with Amazon for more than a year.

"Amazon has been leaning forward on sports. They want to be a new age MSO," he said, in reference to a multiple system operator – an industry term for cable and satellite operators.

The sources further suggested that, as a sign of the seriousness of Amazon's intent, the company hired a former Sports Illustrated executive, James DeLorenzo, to lead its sports division earlier this year.

In addition, former YouTube executive, Charlie Neiman, was hired in May to oversee sports partnerships and to develop business in the area, Bloomberg added.

Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff