Amazon's Premier League coverage could turn into something greater if it the firm can deliver to demanding fans.
This holiday shopping season, Amazon is hoping to lure in hundreds of sports fans with live Premier League soccer coverage. The e-commerce giant invested roughly £90 million to gain the rights to a handful of games in an effort to beef up its streaming service and attract sports fans to its Prime Ecosystem.
But has Amazon bitten off more than it can chew with its Premier League streaming ambitions? When the firm secured the rights to the games back in 2018, it was unclear exactly how many people were going to be tuning in to see the games live. In the UK, the number of Premier League viewers rose 12% last season. So far this season, the figure has seen a massive jump yet again.
Amazon’s streaming platform is tasked with compressing live video data and distributing it via individual streams to millions of viewers’ homes. They’re not easy to please either. Polls show that sports viewers prefer viewing live matches through traditional TV. There could be many reasons for that, but lag-times are a big factor for many.
The time difference between a live game and its equivalent ‘live’ stream can make or break the viewing experience. That’s because fans often follow the games on social media and updates coming in ahead of their stream can be frustrating.
Amazon attempted to deliver live sports last year with the U.S. Open tennis matches. A lack of coverage and poor picture quality left viewers with a bad taste in their mouths, though. The Premier League debut on Tuesday night was meant to be the firm’s big comeback, but some viewers are still skeptical.
An hour into the pre-match commentary, some viewers started to complain about poor quality streams.
Others praised Amazon’s sound options, which allow viewers to tune out commentary by opting for “stadium atmosphere.”
If Amazon can pull this off, it could be a monstrous gain not only for the firm’s streaming service but for its business overall. If viewers get the kind of experience they’re looking for this December, Amazon could eventually gain rights to an entire season’s worth of games.
That would be huge for Amazon, as the Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world. It has a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people. If Amazon is able to take over the broadcast of Premier League games, or even the majority of games, that would translate into a major bump in subscriber numbers. Premier League games would also help Amazon further penetrate international markets, as its popularity spans the globe. Viewership in China, India, Brazil and South Korea has been on the rise this season.
Of course, Amazon isn’t the only one with its eyes on the Premier league. BT and Sky, who also have Premier League rights, will be fighting hard against an Amazon takeover. Other streaming services will also likely throw their hats in the ring if Amazon’s entrance goes well.
For now, Amazon is planning to broadcast a handful of games over the Christmas period in order to encourage Prime signups. That’s unlikely to be Amazon’s end goal, though. Live sports are likely to become a battleground among streaming services as watching matches is make-or-break for many viewers.
To be sure, taking over the Premier League will be no easy feat – even for Amazon. Some believe that offering Amazon exclusive rights would change how the league operates by transforming teams into cash-cows. Still, Amazon has elbowed its way to the top in just about every industry it’s taken on, so securing Premier League rights is far from out of the question.
This article was edited by Gerelyn Terzo.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:41 PM UTC