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Amazon dives into sports streaming battle with first Australian rights

“We think that a large portion of [subscribers] are going to be interested and watch it and we think that there’s customers out there who haven’t yet discovered Prime Video and this might be the thing that gets them to sign up.”

The deal includes all swimming trials for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and Paralympics and qualifying events for the 2022 FINA World Swimming Championships and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Amazon Prime Video does not break out its local figures but estimates from Telsyte last August indicate the streaming service has nearly 2 million subscribers. It has accumulated that audience by selling packages between $6.99 a month and $59 a year. The new arrangement, which will come at no additional cost for users, signals a highly targeted push for Australian subscribers. Users will be notified in the app when events are live and replay features.

Amazon Prime Video has not signed a local broadcast deal for live sport to date but it has run sports-related documentaries such as The Test and soon-to-launch AFL series Making Their Mark.

Its foray into live sport could have significant ramifications for the industry and broadcast rights negotiations, which have typically been split between a free-to-air broadcaster and a subscription service.

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Telstra pioneered live streaming of sport in Australia before rival telco Optus launched an online streaming product centred on English Premier League coverage in 2016. Foxtel (which owns Fox Sports) built its own streaming platform Kayo Sports in 2019 and Nine Entertainment Co’s streaming service Stan announced late last year it would expand its product to facilitate live sport. Nine is also the owner of this masthead. The sports streaming market changed again on when Telstra this week announced it would paying for the rights to the NRL, AFL and netball and give its customers access to Kayo Sports.

The proliferation of these services has allowed second and third tier sports to think more carefully about the best place to broadcast games and events. Increased competition also prompted the launch of a “freemium model” for Kayo Sports to help smaller sports gain a large amount of reach.

Swimming Australia president Kieren Perkins said the deal was the beginning of a long-term partnership with Amazon.

“One of the things that Amazon Prime Video gives us is a global audience,” Mr Perkins said. ”We know the quality of the sports production that Prime Video does is best in class and to present our product that way and to give our athletes that stage…is extraordinary.“

“There is also a commercial benefit which will help us grow our sport and deliver more broadly around participation and growth. I’m extremely confident that not only will we prove that this is a great media for us to be able to promote our product but…we’re going to have a long-term relationship that’ll develop well beyond streaming live events.”

The deal with Swimming Australia adds to Amazon Prime Video’s international live sports coverage such its global NFL rights, ATP Tennis, US Open and the English Premier League in Britain.

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