Amazon breaks into English Premier League with new deal

Amazon Prime Video has broken the hold of Sky and BT on the English Premier League by securing the rights to air two full rounds of 20 matches per season, including bank holiday fixtures, in addition to weekly highlights.

Amazon will exclusively live-stream the matches for three years from the 2019-20 season. The matches, and the weekly highlights package, will be available on Prime Video in the UK at no extra cost to Prime members.

The remaining package of 20 matches has been secured by BT for a cost of £90 million (€102 million) meaning the telco has secured 52 games for a totalof £975 million over three years. BT’s deal means that BT Sport will, for the first time, show multiple mid-week Premier League matches on the same evening.

Amazon’s package means the streaming giant will have exclusive access to watch 20 matches per season, comprising two full fixture rounds – the first December midweek round and the festive Bank Holiday round – featuring live coverage of every Premier League team.

The move means that Amazon will add Premier League coverage to its existing stable of sports rights including US Open Tennis, ATP World Tour Tennis events and NFL games, all currently available to watch on Prime Video in the UK.

“We are always looking to add more value to Prime, and we’re delighted to now offer, for the first time, live Premier League matches to Prime members at no extra cost to their membership,” said Jay Marine, Vice President of Prime Video in Europe.

“The Premier League is the most watched sports league in the world.  Over these two December fixture rounds Prime members will be able to watch every team, every game, so no matter which Premier League team you support, you’re guaranteed to see them play live on Prime Video.”

Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore said: “Amazon is an exciting new partner for the Premier League and we are very pleased they have chosen to invest in these rights. Prime Video will be an excellent service on which fans can consume live Premier League football – including for the first time in the UK a full round of matches –  and we look forward to working with them from season 2019/20 onwards.”

The awarding of one of the two remaining batches of rights – four months after Sky and BT took the lion’s share of the rights on offer – follows huge speculation at the time of the initial bid over Amazon’s intentions, with analysts divided over whether the online giant would mount a bid.

Of the latest award, Paolo Pescatore, VP of multiplay and media at CCS Insight, said that the move was “disastrous” for consumers, forcing them to sign up to another service to view all matches on offer.

“In contrast, the Premier League will be delighted with this outcome after having secured a leading online giant. 
With Amazon’s rival, this could well be the last time that both BT and Sky own the live Premier League rights in the UK, with Richard Scudamore keen to attract more online players to the table,” said Pescatore.

He cautioned that “Amazon’s current business model is unsustainable to support the acquisition of costly live sports rights in the long term” and predicted that Amazon will introduce a new sports channel bundle for Prime subscribers.

Pescatore added that the award was “great news for BT, with its TV platform the only place where users can watch all the Premier League matches from 2019, thanks to its content relationships with Amazon and Sky – for Now TV.”

He pointed out that the telco has now secured more games and the cost per game to it has come down.

Chase Buckle, senior trends analyst, GlobalWebIndex, said: This will be an important step for Amazon in attracting new users in the UK to its video offerings. Three in 10 UK Premier League fans already say they use Amazon Prime Video each month, with just over half saying they use Netflix. Six in 10 of these fans are watching sports online on a monthly basis too, so there’s a substantial market for Amazon. In its competition with Netflix, original content has been a key focus, but live sports entertainment is where Amazon can really differentiate from Netflix.”

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