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WSJ, USA Today

Is Amazon Trying to Muscle In on Traditional TV’s Final Stronghold?

Nov 22, 2016  •  Post A Comment

One of the last strongholds of the traditional television business model could be at risk, if Amazon has its way — although the loosening of broadcast and cable’s grip on live sports may still be a ways off.

USA Today and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that Amazon is working on deals to move into live-streaming professional sports.

“In recent months, the e-commerce giant has been in talks with heavy hitters like the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League for the rights to carry live games, according to people familiar with the matter.” WSJ reports. “It also has talked with soccer, lacrosse and surfing leagues, the people said.”

The report adds: “With at least some leagues, including the NBA, Amazon has floated the idea of creating an exclusive premium sports package available with its Amazon Prime program, though the details are unclear, the people said. Such a package could attract new members to the $99-a-year Prime program, as well as to a ‘skinny bundle’ of live online channels that Amazon is pursuing.”

Amazon wasn’t commenting.

USA Today notes: “Amazon has shown interest in live NFL games in recent years and has also talked with the NBA about streaming live sports, persons familiar with the discussions told USA Today.”

The report notes that sports leagues have already been tinkering with digital distribution, including the NFL’s recent streaming of games on Yahoo and Twitter. “Twitter also has deals to begin streaming Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games,” USA Today adds.

The report quotes Bruce Leichtman, president of the Leichtman Research Group, saying: “The NFL has already dabbled with Yahoo and Twitter — why not Amazon?  But I would not expect any major changes to the NFL contracts in the near future.”

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