OTT & Digital

Amazon snaps up Premier League rights package in landmark deal

English soccer’s top flight also agrees new formula for distribution of international rights revenue.

by Sam Carp

Amazon snaps up Premier League rights package in landmark deal

Amazon has secured one of the Premier League’s two remaining domestic rights packages as English soccer’s top flight concluded its sales process for the three seasons from 2019/20 to 2021/22.

The US tech titan has secured package F, giving its Amazon Prime Video streaming service exclusive coverage in the UK and Ireland of 20 matches per season from one Bank Holiday, set to be Boxing Day, and one midweek fixture programme.

The other outstanding bundle, package G, has been sold to pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport for UK£90 million, adding a further 20 fixtures each season to the 32 it had already sealed back in February.

The Premier League had hoped that Amazon’s interest would spark a bidding war in February’s auction, but was forced to settle on a UK£4.464 billion deal with Sky and BT for five of the seven packages.

The addition of package G to BT’s portfolio takes its total rights spend to UK£975 million over the three years and the Premier League’s total windfall from its biggest two domestic broadcasters to UK£4.554 billion. The figure for Amazon’s package has not been revealed.

“Sky and BT are established Premier League partners and provide first-rate coverage of the competition through their live-match broadcasts and comprehensive programming,” said Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore, who later revealed that he will be stepping down before the end of 2018. “We welcome Amazon as an exciting new partner and we know Prime Video will provide an excellent service on which fans can consume the Premier League.

“The interest in our UK rights is testament to the fantastic competition delivered by our clubs.  This outcome will support their continued efforts to put on the best possible football and use their popularity and reach to have a positive impact on the sport and beyond.”

Amazon’s deal to show the Premier League for the first time means that fans will have to sign up to three different services if they want access to live broadcasts of every game.

The agreement marks Amazon’s latest push into the sports rights market, following its acquisition of exclusive coverage in the UK and Ireland of both the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament and the men’s ATP World Tour. 

Meanwhile, in what was a historic day for the Premier League, its clubs have agreed on a new formula for distributing any future increase in international rights revenue from the start of the 2019/20 season.

The league currently shares the money equally between all 20 clubs, but any increase will now be allocated based on each team’s final position in the table.

The news comes after Liverpool owner John Henry expressed frustration at the ongoing subsidising of lower-ranked teams, and the new model is likely to see the so-called ‘Big Six’ - which comprises Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – benefit going forward.

The league’s leading clubs made a similar attempt last year to amend the previous model but were outvoted by the other teams.