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Volume 26 No. 206
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Amazon's Debut As EPL Broadcaster Met With Mixed Reviews From Fans

Amazon's foray into soccer broadcasting in the U.K. has "received a mixed response with praise for technological innovation counterbalanced by complaints over streaming issues," according to David Reid of CNBC.com. Amazon in June '18 acquired a package of EPL media rights starting this season. All 20 of Amazon's games are "shown on its Prime Video service and will be concentrated into two game weeks" -- from Dec. 3-5 and Dec. 26-27. The broadcasts of Tuesday night's Man City-Burnley and Bournemouth-Crystal Palace games "were met with a mixed response." The "biggest complaint appeared to be streaming issues." The U.K.'s Independent newspaper noted "buffering at inopportune times" and "commentary out of sync." The newspaper added that the "delay to the feed was often up to a minute behind the action." Meanwhile, others were "happier with the service, praising its live data which allows viewers to check team line-ups or replay game highlights." Amazon also has "offered the option for fans to listen without commentary but still hear the stadium noise." That option "appeared to please several fans." The Guardian newspaper said that Amazon "appeared to have gone for a much less flashy debut" (CNBC.com, 12/4).

BREAKING IT DOWN: CNBC’s Wilfred Frost said in the U.K., there have been “quite a lot of complaints" about "glitchy coverage, although I think that’s more of a damning statement on the state of U.K. broadband than Amazon’s service itself.” Frost: “It shows that entering into this space is perhaps a little harder than some think, but also their commitment to live sports rights overall.” CNBC's Julia Boorstin said, “Live streaming is always challenging,” and it is “definitely harder to do live rather than on-demand streaming." She added the EPL is “such a popular league, people want to stream this all over the world.” Boorstin: “It's possible that they just have such a massive audience for this that they're still figuring out some of the technicalities … but this is a huge market in terms of soccer. It definitely seems like we’re going to continue to see Amazon push further and further into sports rights” (“Closing Bell,” CNBC, 12/4).

EASING INTO IT: THE ATHLETIC's Adam Hurrey notes Amazon's three-year deal, worth an estimated $118.2M, represents "just under" 0.04% of the company's annual revenue. That "relative lack of pressure to attract immediate eyeballs has characterised Amazon's first 48 hours" as an EPL broadcaster. There was "no aggressive marketing campaign, no suggestion of crashing Sky and BT's long-established party and no jumping in at the deep end." Even as the "action began, they refused to let their experimental hair down too much." Those who thought Amazon "might throw caution to the traditional wind and place the score and time in the unchartered waters of ... the bottom-right corner of the screen were to be underwhelmed." It was placed in the "tried-and-tested top-left" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/5).