Amazon, Facebook Set to Take Competition to Traditional Sports Broadcasters

By | April 4, 2018

Armed with multi-billion-dollar video content plans, tech giants, Amazon and Facebook are set to take the competition to traditional sports broadcasters and India, too, could witness some action.

The battle for live sports streaming seems to have begun already. Two biggest tech giants of current times, Amazon and Facebook, are trying to grab a share in the live sports market, and are expected to be forerunners in the game. Google and Apple are also supposed to be in the fray, although they could be the wild cards players.

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Amazon has already had a huge presence in the video-streaming market through its Prime Video service. It would not be a stretch to expect Amazon to lead the race, while Facebook, which rolled out a separate Watch tab last year to focus on video content, is stepping up its game as well.

With their live sports streaming announcements, Amazon and Facebook have been the centre of various discussions and analysis. Head of Technology Research at GBH Insight, Daniel Ives, stated, “We note 2021, the year when the NFL, MLB, and NHL media rights deals will end, it will be the first big opportunity for Amazon, Facebook, and other such streaming platforms to place bids on some of these rights, versus the likes of traditional entrenched media players/cable.”

Ives also shared his views on Facebook’s new video streaming platform. Facebook is keen on original programming and is expected to spend over $1 billion on it in 2018. Ives had this to say about original programming, “We believe original content programming expenditure could be between $1 billion to $1.5 billion over the next year for Facebook with a huge portion of this dedicated to living sports programming rights for various NCAA, MLB, potentially NFL events, and other international events.”

Meanwhile, Amazon could be spending upwards of $5 billion on Prime Video, for adding new content. According to a report by GBH, a significant portion of this investment would be spent on acquiring sports rights, as recently many major sporting events and properties are up for renewal. The official GBH statement was as follows, “With Amazon planning to spend $5 billion on content in 2018 based on our estimate, we believe the company’s huge funds, 90 million strong Prime membership base, and an established streaming service makes it a potential major player and a disruptive force to future live sports rights.” Amazon has previously also streamed a few sports events like the NFL games in the US. Currently, it is most likely expected to bid for the extremely popular football (or soccer, however you prefer to call it) event English Premier League (EPL).

Both Facebook and Amazon have tried to secure the digital rights of the gigantic Indian Premier League (IPL), the biggest sporting event in India, and among the top ten in the world. Their valiant efforts were beaten as they lost to Star India, which secured the deal for an astronomical amount of Rs 16,347 crore for a five-year deal with the BCCI. But, Amazon and Facebook are not expected to sit silently. Owing to their vast user base in the country, it is likely that they will be keeping tabs on future sporting events in India.

In similar news, Apple is currently taking steps is the same direction, creating original content for its in-house Apple Music service. The US tech giant, most famous for the “iPhone” is expected to spend a sum of over $4.2 billion on original content by the year 2022. The same GBH report states that Apple and Google could be the wild cards in the live sports-streaming market. Other social networks like Snap and Twitter could stream one-off games too, albeit with much smaller funds and scale of operations.