Exciting for governing bodies, a tough break for Sky and BT Sport. That is how most industry insiders see the arrival of Amazon, who will make their debut as a British sports broadcaster next week when they carry live tennis coverage from Queen’s.
“We are just getting started,” said Jay Marine, European head of Amazon Prime Video, on Wednesday during a briefing at a London hotel. Later this summer, the US Open will also appear via Amazon Prime, while from next season the four million subscribers will be able to watch 38 events from the Association of Tennis Professionals tour.
Like many significant sports-broadcasting shifts, this move stemmed from a lack of interest from the established partner. Sky had been screening the US Open since the early 1990s, but during last summer’s rebrand, they set up specialist channels for Formula One and golf while squeezing tennis into the hotchpotch of Sky Sports Arena.
Unimpressed by the broadcaster’s attitude – which may have been influenced by advertising from car manufacturers and golf suppliers – the ATP have thus gambled on the “over-the-top” model, meaning that coverage is not broadcast through an aerial or satellite dish but streamed via the internet. Prime viewers will be able to watch action from any court they choose.
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