Amazon has secured the streaming rights for 40 major sports teams across the United States, potentially rescuing Diamond Sports Group from bankruptcy proceedings.
If ultimately approved, this agreement could once again transform the sports viewing landscape, positioning Amazon as a dominant player in the realm of sports streaming rights. It would also enable Amazon to play a significant role in the flagging business of Regional Sports Networks (RSNs).
What does the Amazon/Bally deal mean for fans?
Amazon’s entry as a minority owner of Bally Sports regional networks is a strategic move that solidifies the company’s position at the core of sports broadcasting.
Amazon already holds a small piece of NFL viewership with its multi-year deal to stream Thursday Night Football. Adding Bally’s 18 RSNs would cover 37 professional teams, including 11 MLB, 15 NBA, and 11 NHL organizations, according to NewscastStudio.
The partnership with Diamond may streamline how fans watch their favorite teams by making local games accessible through Amazon Prime. However, it is likely to compel non-Amazon Prime members to join and pay more for their local RSN.
Since the deal is far from finalized, it remains an open question whether Amazon’s entry into the RSN market will result in a more fan-friendly experience.
The grip of cable TV on sports broadcasting is weakening. Reports by Nielsen reveal a steady shift in how people watch sports, with more turning to streaming services and even TV antennas for local broadcasts on NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX.
Amazon’s deal is set to accelerate this change, making it easier for its extensive subscriber base to add a local live sports subscription to their plan. According to a report by Statista, the number of Amazon Prime members in the United States is expected to exceed 180 million users by 2024, up from 168.5 million in 2022.
For some cord-cutters, the Amazon-Diamond deal may be welcome news. Outside of Bally Sports+, a standalone offering, Diamond’s roster of RSNs had limited availability. The entry-level plans from Fubo, starting at $79.99 per month, and DIRECT STREAM, starting at $108.99, are currently the two options among live TV streaming services.
So, could cord-cutters using a TV antenna or a budget-service like Sling TV find a better deal with Amazon now in the mix? It’s hard to say as of today.
While this deal offers more options, it raises plenty of questions for sports fans. Will you have to juggle multiple streaming platforms to keep up with your favorite teams? It’s possible that exclusive streaming rights could end up scattered across different platforms, making it a bit more complex for viewers.
Taking Cues from the YES Network
Amazon’s prior experience in streaming New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games through the YES Network provides valuable insights for their retail business.
A few years ago, Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at the New York University Stern School of Business, summed up Amazon’s streaming ambitions as “an accessory to sell batteries and toilet paper.”
No doubt, plenty of Yankees and Nets fans give Amazon intimate knowledge about viewer preferences and how streaming works. For other streaming giants such as Disney (owner of ESPN), the deal sets the stage for a more competitive race to deliver a more polished and engaging sports-viewing experience.
Whether you buy the batteries and toilet paper is up to you.
- Reuters: Diamond Sports Deal Emerges from Bankruptcy, Signs Streaming Pact with Amazon
- AP News: Bally Sports and Amazon
- Yahoo Sports: Amazon Takes Minority Stake in Bally Sports Networks, Will Stream Games on Amazon Prime
- Statista: Number of Amazon Prime Subscription Households in the USA
- Newscast Studio: Amazon Invests in Diamond Sports Group, Bolstering Bally RSNs
- Prof. Scott Galloway’s Blog: Land of the Undead