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Amazon beats Sky to secure ATP tennis rights for UK

Amazon Instant VideoAmazon has beaten Sky to secure the UK rights to men’s ATP World Tour tennis, according to press reports. As reported by The Guardian, the global streaming giant is believed to have paid up to £10 million (€11 million) a year to secure the rights to the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and Masters 500 events around the world when Sky’s contract expires next year.

According to The Guardian, Sky is thought to have paid about £8 million a year for the rights, but did not match Amazon’s offer.

The move takes the streaming and e-commerce giant into the world of premium sports rights outside the US for the first time, raising interest in whether it could bid for further rights with English Premier League rights up for renewal next year.

In the US, Amazon struck a deal in April to air Thursday night American football during the forthcoming NFL season, paying a reported US$50 million (€42 million) for 10 games.

The launch of the Amazon Channels premium offering in the UK, Germany and Austria in May included Eurosport in the subscription TV line-up, which includes live streaming of French Open tennis and Tour de France cycling among other things.

Amazon also has live audio streaming rights to Bundesliga football match commentary, including all 615 games of the top-tier Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga games, in Germany through its Amazon Music offering.

Sky recently revamped its sports channels to provide what it pitched as a more flexible offering for subscribers, allowing them to focus on paying for individual sports. The new service includes dedicated channels for the English Premier League, football, cricket, golf and Formula 1. However, tennis is only available via two mixed channels – Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Arena – alongside rugby union, rugby league, boxing, netball, darts, NFL football and WWE and GAA wrestling.

Sky also recently lost the rights to US PGA gold, which was picked up by the BBC.

Amazon’s move into sports was trailed last year when it hired new executives from Sports Illustrated and YouTube to oversee a new sports unit. Bloomberg reported in September that the company was looking into acquiring sports rights with a global appeal, including football, tennis, rugby, golf and motorsports.

“This is a real game changer, and lays down a marker for future sports rights auctions. Amazon must be considered as a serious threat to sports rights holders not only in the UK but other markets as well,” said Paolo Pescatore, VP, multiplay and media, at analyst outfit CCS Insight.

“There is a new player in town and the likes of Sky and BT Sport need to watch out. The real test will come with the Premier League rights auction due early next year. Sky cannot to lose its Crown Jewels, BT Sport will be very keen to add more Premier League games while Amazon with its deep pockets will inevitably be keen to add its tennis rights.”