Amazon Prime scored record sign-ups from its exclusive online video coverage of Premier League football matches in the United Kingdom. The retailer had secured a package of 20 exclusive matches. It is the first time that the ‘televised’ Premier League matches were not on a traditional television channel. Could Amazon become a serious competitor to Sky and BT Sport?
Amazon did not disclose how many people had signed up as a result of its football coverage but said its previous record for The Grand Tour motoring programme was broken on Tuesday, when its first two Premier League matches were carried exclusively on Amazon Prime, and it was broken again the following day when it showed a further six matches.
“We’re delighted that millions of fans enjoyed watching Amazon’s first round of Premier League matches on Prime Video,” said Alex Green, the managing director of Prime Video Sport Europe, formerly director of television at BT and previously at Virgin Media.
It remains to be seen how many will stay on at the end of their 30-day free trial and subscriber for £7.99 a month or £79.00 a year.
Amazon Prime subscribers receive many member benefits as well as Prime Video, including unlimited one-day delivery on Amazon purchases, which could be attractive over the festive period.
It is estimated that there are 6.4 million Amazon Prime subscribers in the United Kingdom. For them, the football coverage is a loyalty bonus.
This loss-leader approach is a very different business model for Amazon, as Prime members tend to spend twice as much with the company over a year as other customers.
Amazon paid a reported £90 million for the rights to show every game from the first round of midweek fixtures in December and all 10 Premier League matches on 26 and 27 December as part of a three-year deal. It works out at an average of £1.5 million a match.
In comparison, BT Sports paid £885 million for 52 games a year, while Sky Sports paid £3.58 billion for 128 matches.
Among the innovations Amazon brought to the coverage was the option to have stadium atmosphere sound without commentary, for which it had secured a number of well-known names. They also offered interactive features, including highlights, match stats, player line-ups and a result predictor, plus the possibility of going back to watch from the start of the match.
Some of the matches were available in 4K Ultra HD for those with compatible equipment.
More than 350 cameras were used in Premier League stadia around the country.
The biggest issue reported was the lag in coverage behind real time of up to a minute or more, which is a problem for those that use social media during the game.
Could Amazon up the stakes and bid for more matches when the three-year rights packages expire? It certainly has the resources to do so, with a market capitalisation of £685 billion and an annual spend of £5 billion or more on video programming and rights.
Sky will probably be prepared to pay a premium to hang on to its coverage, although it is less dependent upon exclusive football than it once was.
It could be more of a challenge for BT, which has invested significantly in sports coverage in an effort to maintain its market share in broadband.