Amazon is reportedly ready to get into sports broadcasting.
A group of investors led by the eCommerce operator is reportedly “ready to sign a deal to buy YES Network — one of New York’s most prominent cable sports channels.”
The offer, said to be imminent, puts the eCommerce giant in a position to control video streaming of New York Yankees baseball games and Brooklyn Nets basketball games. As per the report, Amazon's bid will be for the 80 percent of the YES Network not owned by the Yankees, and would be backed by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Earlier reports had Amazon making a bid a bid for all of the 22 regional sports networks that Disney purchased as part of its Twenty-First Century Fox deal. The YES network is among those properties. “Disney, which owns ESPN, needs to sell the Fox-owned (regional sports networks) to gain regulatory approval for the merger,” MarketWatch says. “But the value of (those networks) generally have been declining as cable subscribers jump ship — thanks to streaming video companies like Netflix and Amazon.”
According to the report, the Amazon-led group of investors “is expected to seek to offset the decline by charging fees for streamed games, a source said.”
For months now Amazon has been going after original content including live entertainment and sports. This fall it launched a new NFL pre-game show on Thursdays, hosted by sports journalists Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer. Amazon Prime Video said the two will provide commentary and analysis for its live streaming coverage of Thursday Night Football games on Prime Video.
The YES Network is under contract to pay broadcast fees to the Yankees until 2042, and those fees are about $90 million a year.
According to that MarketWatch report, “bidders for the 21 remaining channels include a consortium led by rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube’s basketball league, Big3, as well as Major League Baseball and John Malone’s Liberty Media.”