The entertainment, media, and sports industries are similar to many other industries, or life in general, in that change is inevitable. Four recent new stories brought to mind trends that are likely to occur in the coming months and years. Two have to do with Amazon, here and here, the third and fourth with Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL).
1. Select MLB games Streaming on Amazon Prime
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently announced that franchises will now be able to sell their copyrighted television broadcasts for streaming purposes. Normally, television broadcasts are produced and sold nationally or through a regional sports network. Meaning, there are blackouts to local fans wanting to watch their favorite team because it is being broadcast on a national network, cable, satellite, or social media application, etc. Going forward, one is likely to see the major streamers buying up more sports broadcast rights as the windows to negotiate those rights become available. In essence, sports matches should hopefully become easier to watch and less expensive under the existing streaming model. Time will tell.
2. NFL games Streaming with Team-focused Agreements
As the NFL is being challenged in federal court for anti-competitive activity over its broadcast strategy (national vs. local limitation on games being sold), similar to the Chicago Bulls and National Basketball Association (NBA) case in the early 1990s, where the Bulls won the right to sell more of its basketball games as it saw fit. The Sports Broadcast Act of 1961 already gives American professional sports leagues an anti-trust exemption. However, the individual team franchises have been limited until now. One could easily foresee a local victory where more NFL games are broadcast according to the team’s preferences not the League Office. In closing, more vertical deals between franchise and distributor versus horizontal deals between the league office, which includes all teams, and a distributor. Amazon again here could be a major player along with DAZN for those sports rights.
3. Amazon in a Prime position to Dominate multiple Spaces
From A to Z, Amazon is well-positioned in the market place because it is diversified. Amazon has its e-commerce dominance, but also has award-winning television shows, great transportation to deliver goods, and a platform to distribute everyone else’s content for a significant price since it has a large customer base of Prime subscribers. Amazon is also a major player when it comes to delivering web-based services. Its first “local zone” in Los Angeles developed with the purpose of offering faster applications will be a test to Amazon’s strength and future in entertainment and sports content distribution and services. Amazon has already exercised an appetite to buy sports broadcast rights and distribute through its Prime platform, including NFL Thursday Night Football games.
Overall, one is likely to see more local broadcasts, or rather more games being available to fans, and for Amazon and others to be a major player to distribute that sports content.