Amazon is still searching for elusive live sports licensing deals that can hopefully give it a leg up in the ever-expanding SVOD competitive landscape.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce site and Prime Video operator has been in talks with major sports leagues including the NFL, NBA, and MLB in hopes of securing rights to carry live games. Amazon is proposing options including an exclusive sports package that would be offered alongside its Prime Video service.
The new report surfaces just months after Bloomberg reported that Amazon was in the market for live sports. In that report from September, sources said that Amazon was looking into rights for rugby and tennis.
“Amazon has been leaning forward on sports. They want to be a new age MSO,” Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon told Bloomberg. Solomon said that Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned Tennis Channel has been in talks with Amazon for quite some time.
Tennis and rugby rights may be more readily available but major hurdles still exist for would-be distributors looking for live sports deals with the NFL or NBA. Namely, the bulk of the live programming rights for those leagues have been locked up for multiple years by major broadcasters including CBS and Fox and cable networks including TNT.
But as Disney is looking to offer an ESPN live sports streaming service through its BAMTech ownership and Twitter has been able to secure live streaming rights for some NFL games, Amazon may be looking to settle a bit just to keep some skin in the game.
According to the report, Amazon has been going to traditional networks and seeking deals to livestream the leftover games that are not being aired. Sources told the WSJ that Amazon has approached Univision about packaging up unused Mexican soccer league games, as well as ESPN and ONE World Sports about less in-demand rights including Russian hockey league matches.
Amazon has also reportedly approached the Atlantic Coast Conference, Campus Insiders, 120 Sports, the National Lacrosse League, Major League Lacrosse and the World Surf League.
While live sports negotiations are ongoing, Amazon apparently looks ready to launch a large-scale global expansion for its Amazon Prime Video service. Before the end of the year, Amazon Prime could be available in nearly 200 countries, making it a more formidable international foe for Netflix, which is already operating many countries outside of the U.S.
In order to fully take on new international markets, analysts anticipate Amazon will have to beef up its video content budget in order to go after local programming deals, which could lead Amazon’s video budget to hit upwards of $7 billion in 2017.