Now is the perfect time for Amazon and HBO Max to enter the football streaming war
In recent years, the broadcast of football leagues has shifted from linear TV to streaming services. This trend – best exemplified by the forward-thinking Bundesliga followed by La Liga – has continued to accelerate with more and more Americans streaming everything from Netflix movies to live sporting events.
We have seen consumers adapt, albeit with some reservations, to the transition of the aforementioned leagues, as well as more Premier League, Serie A and UEFA Champions League games that have moved to streaming. .
Given the current soccer streaming wars and the likelihood that more, not less, streaming services will start streaming soccer, how will soccer fans react if we see Amazon Prime or HBO Max getting into the mix? in a close future ? Keep in mind that none of these services are currently broadcasting live football matches at the moment. However, there are plenty of opportunities. The rights to the Premier League, MLS, USMNT and USWNT expire within the next twelve months.
American football fans got acquainted with streaming services
The increase in soccer streaming on ESPN +, Paramount + and Peacock has accustomed viewers to using these services. However, it should be noted that these services are all connected to traditional linear networks. Their intense promotion on linear programming makes the transition to streaming easier.
Additionally, football fans are quite comfortable using services like fuboTV or exclusively sports streaming platforms like DAZN or Eleven to watch games. Those who like less traditional properties tend to be more savvy in this regard.
Even though streaming has become a way to stream football live, we haven’t seen games like Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, or Discovery + in the United States. But it’s probably only a matter of time, given the changing landscape of the media world before a top football property found its way to Amazon Prime or HBO Max, in particular.
So what happens when live football inevitably ends up on streaming services not associated with live sports or a leading linear broadcaster?
The Hulu experience
Disney’s decision to bring ESPN + into Hulu for streaming package subscribers has ended up being an effective gateway to testing the concept of live football on what is otherwise an on-demand entertainment platform.
While Hulu is now associated with Disney, it has long been a place to find on-demand programming associated with television networks. But, in the past, this was not a place to see live events. Hulu, in many ways, pioneered the streaming of sitcoms and movies on demand. This protected the TV networks from the rise of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The integration of ESPN + into Hulu, according to this writer’s anecdotal evidence, has changed the viewing habits of many around me.
Premier League success in UK on Prime
Amazon Prime has received rave reviews for its coverage of the Premier League in the UK since its inception. Over the years, Prime has brought in some of the most well-known football commentators and presenters. In addition, the service offered corresponds to its streaming service free of charge. Amazon only broadcasts Premier League games on special midweek occasions, but this has proven to be more accessible to viewers than its Sky Sports counterpart.
The general consensus among UK-based Premier League fans is that they would not object to seeing a greater share of matches being shown on Amazon Prime in the next rights cycle. Additionally, Amazon received favorable ratings from the print media in terms of presentation and accessibility when broadcasting the league.
In the United States, Amazon has received praise for its streaming of live sports on Prime.
Could Amazon Prime, HBO Max or entertainment streaming services switch to live football?
In short, yes. In fact, it’s probably inevitable at this point. As noted above, Amazon Prime has streamed Premier League matches in England. Discovery + has expressed its interest in acquiring the rights to Ligue One at the national level in France.
Major League Soccer appears to be a very attractive property for streaming. The decline of Linear Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) over the past five years is compounding the interest of streaming services in the league. The growing relevance of MLS at the national level makes off-market matches unavailable on a linear channel very attractive to streaming services.
The recent addition of MLS clubs in Austin, Nashville and Charlotte, three “emerging” Sun Belt markets that have attracted also streaming-savvy young professionals, improves the viability of MLS for a possible deal with Amazon Prime or HBO Max.
NBC Sports is in its final year of broadcasting the Premier League under their current six-year contract. With NBC shutting down its dedicated sports channel, NBCSN, later this year and its growing reliance on the goofy streaming service Peacock, the time may have come for a new rights holder to move in.
Some estimate that the next U.S. Premier League rights deal will exceed $ 2 billion over six years. Therefore, only a few broadcasters will be willing to shell out that kind of money for this property. Obviously, ESPN and CBS Sports are in the mix. Still, it’s also very possible that Amazon Prime or HBO Max will take a step.
The Premier League recognizes the power of streaming in the UK market. The league may not see much of a difference between buried channels on various service providers and a direct streaming deal.
Ultimately, an exclusive streaming deal is likely a non-starter. For example, NBC could continue to guarantee one or more game per week on network television, or CBS could probably promise one game a week or more on broadcast television.
However, there are some tricky obstacles. NBC has decided to fold NBCSN to move the matches to USA Network and NBC Live. Putting games on live broadcasts is tricky with the FCC demanding educational and public affairs content on weekend mornings. In addition, there is always a risk that people will not switch from NBCSN to cable channels. In that regard, giant streaming services like Amazon Prime are becoming a very real option for the league.
Streaming is now the primary way to watch high performance football in the United States. As the transition from broadcast and cable TV to streaming continues, expect to see more streaming players.
Also, it won’t be standard sports-oriented programming. These rights offerings will come from services known for on-demand programming.