Amazon apparently never stops thinking about possible perks it could add to its annual $99 Prime membership, and the next feature could be live sports. A report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that Amazon is in talks with professional sport organizations including Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Football League to negotiate the rights to stream live games and events.
According to the report, Amazon is looking at creating a premium sports package that it could include in Amazon Prime memberships. If it comes to fruition, a sports package could draw a lot of new customers to Prime, which already offers free two-day shipping, Amazon Video streaming of TV shows and movies, music streaming with Prime Music, the Prime Reading library of free e-books, and more. It would also be a big way for Prime to stand out among other streaming services, particularly Netflix, which has steered clear of sports since most people don’t want to watch a football game after it’s over.
Not only does Amazon want to continue to beef up Prime, but it’s also trying to compete with other companies making deals for sports content. Twitter signed a deal with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season, and Facebook live-streamed the National Women’s Soccer League opener back in August. In a time when streaming services are incredibly popular, live sports is a major reason people still pay for pricey cable packages. A good example is DirecTV, which saw a big subscriber bump when it began offering the premium NFL Sunday Ticket package.
It will likely be a while before Amazon starts streaming premium live sports since TV companies currently hold most of those rights. ESPN and TNT have the rights to NBA games until 2025; CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC share NFL rights for many more years; and rights to college conferences are spread across various networks (and in some cases, are tied up until 2030). However, the report suggests that Amazon has also considered purchasing the rights to other sports like the Liga MX soccer league in Mexico and the KHL, a professional hockey league based in Russia, as well as some college-level sporting events.
The details of a Prime possible sports package have yet to be determined. According to The Wall Street Journal report, Amazon still doesn’t know if the package would be bundled into the $99 Prime price or if it would require an extra fee. Amazon could also license channels rather than acquiring the rights to the sporting events themselves.