from the it's-spreading dept
We’ve made the point repeatedly that one of the last and most important threads on which the current cable television industry is hanging is that of live sports. While cord-cutting is indeed a thing, the many broadcast agreements pro and major college sports leagues have with cable broadcast partners keeps the cord-cutting from becoming a deluge from a burst dam. That being said, small but important steps have begun with many leagues, which are finally recognizing the demand viewers have for over the top streaming options. While there are still far too many restrictions in these sports streaming options, there is no doubt that American sports leagues have begun snipping away at this thread for cable television.
And now it this practice is coming to Europe as well. Specifically, Amazon has secured a relatively small but massively important streaming broadcast agreement for Premier League soccer.
Amazon has scored the rights to stream Premier League football (soccer) matches in the UK for three years. It’s the first time that Brits will be able to watch a full day of games on a streaming-only service, and Amazon will offer 20 games next season to Prime subscribers at no extra cost. Amazon has secured one of the smaller packages of Premier League games, but an important one over the festive period. Prime subscribers will get access to the first midweek December games rather than the big weekend fixtures, and Amazon will also be streaming all of the festive Boxing Day fixtures.
“This will be the first time a full round of Premier League fixtures will be broadcast live in the UK,” notes Amazon. It’s a deal that will mean British football fans will need to have an Amazon Prime subscription to watch any Boxing Day matches live. Boxing Day is a public holiday in the UK, and it’s a big day of football matches. It’s also the day after Christmas Day, when most British football fans will sit around in their pajamas and feast on leftover Christmas dinner food and watch matches live.
The plans Amazon has for this specific broadcast agreement obviously revolve around more than just revenue from the matches themselves. The timing of the games is key, centered around the post-Christmas holiday. Amazon will be pushing the public to sign up for Amazon Prime so that they can stream these games, while at the same time pushing those same customers to do their holiday shopping on Amazon as well. It’s a way to gobble up marketshare in a fairly ingenious way.
But the greater overall effect could be on the cable industry in Europe. Imagine if the viewership numbers for these streaming games compares favorably to broadcast cable television numbers. Suddenly, the Premier League will have found a brand new partner to show its games, one that is motivated by more than just selling advertising during commercial breaks. There’s a synergy there that cable TV simply can’t have. And, of course, the public would have far less use for cable TV if it can get its sports via streaming.
This trend has and will continue. And it doesn’t look good for the cable industry.