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Volume 25 No. 6
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Are Amazon, Facebook Setting Stage For Major Sports Rights Play?

Recent reports note Amazon and Facebook are prepared to spend billions on media rights, and one research analyst sees "much of this budget being directed towards sports, just as many sports rights deals come to an end, allowing tech companies the chance to get in on the action," according to Arjun Kharpal of CNBC.com. N.Y.-based research firm GBH Insights Chief Strategy Officer & Head of Technology Daniel Ives said that the "next 12 to 18 months is a 'pivotal window'" for both Amazon and Facebook to "secure rights to various professional sports programs." Ives: "In 2021, the year when the NFL, MLB and NHL media rights deals mostly end, will be the first major opportunity for Amazon, Facebook." According to a Wall Street Journal report, Facebook is "willing to spend" as much as $1B this year. Meanwhile, Ives estimated Amazon "could spend upward" of $5B on media rights. Ives sees "much of this budget being directed towards sports, just as many sports rights deals come to an end, allowing tech companies the chance to get in on the action." Ives: "We will be watching this sports content battle closely over the coming year, as well as the success/engagement from the Facebook MLB endeavor, as it could be a sign of things to come with streaming platforms playing a bigger role in global professional sports broadcasting rights in the years ahead and potentially shaking up this market, while adding a major notch on the content belts of Amazon, Facebook and other new tech entrants to this arena." Ives added that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in the "early strategic steps of building out a massive wave of sports content spending over the coming few years." Amazon streamed some NFL "TNF" games last season, and Ives said that the e-commerce giant could also bid for a smaller package of EPL rights, going up "against British incumbents Sky and BT" (CNBC.com, 3/13).