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Amazon's beautiful game: why the eCommerce giant is buying rights to live football

– Written by Jérôme de Guigné

Amazon is branching into a new area: sports. And it’s not dabbling with any old sports: it’s chasing the big leagues. It has just made a deal to broadcast the UEFA Champions League football from 2024-2027 in the UK, joining its current deals to broadcast it in Germany and Italy.

And in France, it’s now in its second year of broadcasting Ligue 1, the country’s domestic football championship, in a three-year deal that cost $302m.

Amazon also has prestigious live sport offerings in tennis and rugby in the UK, broadcasting the US Open, Laver Cup and Autumn Nations Cup.

In the US, it has made a huge deal to broadcast NFL American football, the country’s most popular sport: the deal is worth $1 billion per season, and set to last for 11 years.

But it’s soccer that Amazon seems to be investing in most, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s the world’s biggest sport, and the UEFA Champions League men’s final is one of the most-watched live events in the world.

Prime development

As such, broadcasting live sport brings a huge new audience to Prime: in 2020 Amazon’s Premier League football in the UK reportedly led to a massive 35% growth in Prime subscribers.

According to figures from Statista, Amazon Prime is now the second most popular video-on-demand service with subscription for live sports.

The model requires viewers to be a member of Prime, and to pay an additional monthly subscription – for Ligue 1 in France it’s €12.99 a month.

New Prime subscribers is only half of it, though: the other boon is advertising.

Classic ads

The advertising model is simple: ‘classic advertising’ during ad breaks. Proof that the old ways still work.

Each match in Amazon’s Ligue 1 coverage has 360 seconds of Classic Ads plus 96 seconds of Sponsor content over four ad breaks.

Naturally, Amazon is charging advertisers six-figure sums.

In return, advertisers will be given weekly/monthly reports detailing their impressions, completion rate, unique reach and frequency.

A great fit for sport

Over the years Prime Video has become a formidable opponent to traditional TV. There’s no question that Amazon has the resources to acquire the rights to top-level sports and deliver a great service.

All matches are streamed flawlessly in HD; 80% of viewers watch on a TV screen. Research on the Ligue 1 pass shows there’s a high level of satisfaction with the quality of journalists and pundits.

It’s obviously working: 35% growth for Prime is massive.

And it strengthens Amazon’s offer for big brands, giving them unprecedented visibility. This means Amazon can move its advertising offering up the ladder to provide brand lift and influence - a contrast to its traditional, conversion-focused model, where it could only target customers who were already looking to make a purchase.

This is opening up for massive brand advertising, which Amazon may be able to funnel directly into measurable sales in the future.

It’s also interesting to note that Amazon will be able to retain more customers for longer in the Prime environment, which, with the advent of Amazon Marketing Cloud and the gradual desertion of cookies, gives Amazon more customer data and therefore more marketing power.

Overall, Amazon Prime is a fantastic fit for live sport, and we can see it growing and growing over the coming years. Big brands should definitely be excited about the opportunity.

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