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Amazon and Facebook line up bids for Premier League streaming rights

Monday, September 25th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Tech giants including Amazon and Facebook are thought to be lining up bids for live Premier League TV rights.

Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman of Manchester United, told investors he expects the firms to be in the running for Premier League and potentially even Champions League streaming rights.

The last rights auction took place in February 2015, with Sky and BT paying more than £5bn in total to secure a share of 168 live matches over three Premier League seasons. This deal runs until the end of next season.

BT Sport has since paid an extra £1.18bn to retain the exclusive rights to the Champions League and Europa League.

The auction for the 2019-2022 seasons kicks off later this year and should be finished by February, but it could be whole new ball game with powerful new players involved.

Amazon has already paid £37m for the right to live stream Thursday night NFL games, which are also shown on either CBS or NBC in the US.

Its Prime streaming service will also show live tennis from the ATP tour after Amazon outbid Sky for the rights in a £10m-a-year deal.

And Facebook signalled its intention to disrupt the sport rights market with an (ultimately unsuccessful) £444m bid to stream live cricket from the Indian Premier League.

Twitter has also struck a number of deals for live sports and highlights packages including American football, basketball and tennis, while Netflix has so far said it has no plans to start streaming live sport or music.

With regards to English football rights, the Telegraph quoted Man Utd’s Woodward as saying: “Absolutely I think [Amazon and Facebook will] enter the mix.

“Anecdotally there was strong interest in the last cycle and we’re hearing that around the Premier League table, but we’re also hearing that from a European perspective as well in terms of interest in the Champions League and Europa League rights.

“I do think we are going to see an increase in engagement from these and we would welcome the interest.

“I think it’s going to be increasingly important to digitally engage with fans, and we think we can be complementary to partners like this coming in.”

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