Why it matters: Sports programming is one of the most highly sought after due to its popularity in the United States. Adding big name sports leagues such as the NBA and MLB increases the value for Amazon Prime Video and could make Prime subscriptions much more compelling.
Earlier this year, Disney completed a massive $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox that included the 22 Fox Sports channels. Because Disney already owns ESPN, the Department of Justice forced Disney to sell off the Fox Sports channels to complete the buy. Amazon may be the one buying those channels according to CNBC.
The channels themselves broadcast games for 44 teams in major sports leagues like the MLB, NBA, and NHL. This would expand Amazon’s reach into sports who already has a deal with the NFL to broadcast Thursday Night Football games. Amazon also cemented a deal with the Premier League in Europe to stream 20 soccer games for three seasons starting in 2019.
Amazon already has its vast library of content with its Prime offerings. Along with the Fire TV hardware offerings, Amazon could have a killer lineup combining its premium shows like Jack Ryan with NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL games. Sports are the primary reason many people are hesitant to cut the cord. This could be the catalyst to make cord cutting a lot more attractive.
Interestingly, the “New Fox” that spun out of the original Disney/Fox merger is reportedly trying to buy back the 22 channels. Additionally, other buyers have emerged such as The Blackstone Group, Apollo Global Management, KKR, and Sinclair Broadcast Group. If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because its the same company that forced news affiliates around the country to read the same scripted promo that bashed “fake news” and sounded very much like President Trump’s attack against the media.
While Amazon has not officially commented on the CNBC report, it will be interesting to see if Amazon can win this bid and increase their sports catalog for Prime subscribers.