Amazon Holds Talks Over Premier League Broadcast Rights In U.K.
Amazon "has held talks" over the U.K. rights to the Premier League ahead of next month's auction, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. In a move that will "fuel speculation" the internet company is considering challenging Sky and BT for domestic coverage of the world's richest league, Amazon "has been consulting industry experts about the practicalities of adding top-flight English football to its fledgling portfolio of live sport." The development was confirmed by two "well-placed" sources on Thursday, while Amazon "refused to confirm or deny whether it was exploring bidding" for the U.K. rights for the Premier League from '19-22. One source revealed the company "sounded out external experts about exactly what was required in the broadcast of live top-flight football due to its own lack of experience in the field." Only "time will tell" whether Amazon will follow up its interest in the Premier League with a formal bid that "could be crucial to clubs' hopes of securing a substantial increase" in the £5.14B ($6.96B) they obtained from Sky and BT during the last rights auction (TELEGRAPH, 1/4).
PEACE SIGNS: In London, Christoper Williams wrote by the way Premier League clubs are "splashing the cash" in the January transfer window, "it would appear nothing has changed in football finance." Yet there is "good reason to suspect that the steep increases in pay-TV cash that have fuelled rocketing transfer fees and player salaries may be coming to an end." BT and Sky have "effectively declared a truce in the battle" that drove the Premier League's annual domestic rights income from less than £600M to more than £1.7B in the space of a few seasons. In December, the "formerly bitter rivals" agreed to provide their sports channels to each other on a wholesale basis. Signs of peace have been "visible for some time," however. Both companies can "scarcely afford to go eyeball to eyeball again" (TELEGRAPH, 1/3).