Amazon may try to expand its live sports offering for Prime subscribers by bidding on 20 of Fox’s regional sports channels, according to a report from CNBC.
Fox’s 22 channels were acquired by Disney during the two companies’ merger earlier this year. Disney, which already owns ESPN, has told regulators that it's willing to immediately sell off those channels to gain approval for the other assets covered by the acquisition. Amazon is looking to bring those channels into its own library of offerings. The 22 channels broadcast games for more than 40 teams from Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL, according to CNBC. The YES Network, which has broadcast many Yankees games, is among them, but the team might make an effort to retake full ownership of the network and remove it from the pool. Amazon is joined by Apollo Global Management, KKR, The Blackstone Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and Tegna in making bids during a first round offer, according to the report.
Sports may seem off-base for Amazon, a company that’s invested its entertainment funds in creating award-winning prestige shows and building its Prime library, but the company has been investing in sports content for some time.
The company has tested out streaming sports games in the United States. Amazon is currently streaming 11 Thursday Night Football games through a deal with the NFL, extending a one-year deal with the league last season. Those games reportedly garnered 18.4 million total viewers in 224 countries, according to a study. The deal reportedly cost the company $130 million, but instead of just carrying games for Prime subscribers, each game was also streamed on Twitch. Twitch allowed for extensions to play over games, giving viewers the option to implement widgets that displayed live statistics. Amazon has also produced original NFL documentaries.
Amazon struck a deal in Europe to carry 20 Premier League soccer games beginning in 2019 for three seasons. The games will play in blocks, with 10 games over one holiday and another 10 over the course of a week, according to The Guardian. All 20 games will be available to Amazon Prime subscribers in the United Kingdom for no extra cost.
Securing the rights to some big-market team games in major professional sports — including the New York Yankees — would be a big step for Amazon in supplying subscribers with more live sports games.
CNBC does report that New Fox — the company remaining after the Disney deal — is expected to make a bid to buy back the 22 networks. Fox did not make a bid in the first round, but is expected to make one in the second round. That will occur before the end of the year, according to CNBC.
The Verge has reached out to Amazon for comment.