Amazon takes Sky tennis rights – is the Premier League next?

Move could be a 'game changer' for sports rights as digital companies join a competitive market

Andy Murray
Andy Murray after winning the ATP World Tour Finals in London
(Image credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

Amazon has thrown its hat into the ring as a sports broadcaster after securing the rights to the ATP World Tour tennis coverage from Sky Sports.

The company has reportedly agreed a £10m a year deal to show elite men's tennis from 2019, outbidding Sky, which has held the rights since 1990, in the process.

"Viewers will now require a subscription to Amazon Prime, an online video streaming service, to watch the majority of top-flight men's tennis outside the four grand-slam events, such as tournaments in Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome," says The Times.

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"The move by Amazon is regarded by industry insiders as a game-changer in the battle for sports rights in the UK, with digital companies now entering the fray alongside the more traditional broadcasters. Amazon has a deal with the NFL to show ten matches in the United States, but this is its first major live television deal elsewhere in the world."

The deal could be a significant one, agrees The Guardian. "Amazon's move is its first major live TV sports rights deal outside the US and potentially signals that an already competitive market could be about to heat up further," says the paper.

This could open up a new battlefront, "pitching deep-pocketed digital players against broadcasters".

Looking ahead the paper adds: "Sky and BT are preparing to go to battle to renew their £5.14bn Premier League rights early next year, with both companies hoping for an end to rampant rights price inflation."

Sky's decision not to defend its tennis contract may be connected to those negotiations, says the Daily Telegraph. It says the broadcaster has been "haemorrhaging... secondary sports rights ahead of the upcoming Premier League auction".

The move could also "spark speculation" that Amazon could really shake things up by joining the Premier League fight, "although it remains to be seen whether that would fit its global business model".

Sky Sports rebranded its channels and "announced a heavy fall in profits" last week, says the paper. In addition to the tennis, the broadcaster "recently ended its 25-year coverage of golf's US PGA Championship, the rights for which were picked up by the BBC, and is in danger of losing the rights to the Masters to BT Sport".

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