Amazon only interested in showing competitions with ‘no certainty of outcome’

Fan interest and competitive uncertainty will always drive Amazon Prime Video in the decisions it makes on buying sports rights, its managing director has said.

The broadcaster went public in its opposition to the European Super League last month at the point when all 12 founder clubs were still on board, saying it “shared the concerns” of fans regarding the breakaway competition and had not been involved in any of the discussions around its foundation.

This month Amazon renewed its three-year deal with the Premier League, granting it the rights to screen 20 top-flight matches a season through to 2025. Alex Green, the MD of Amazon Prime Video Sport Europe, told the PA news agency his company was only interested in buying rights to competitions fans supported.

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“The reason we invested in the Premier League is because of the quality of competition, the fact that there is that there’s no certainty of outcome,” he said.

“Teams get promoted, teams get relegated, different teams win the league. I take my hat off to (Manchester) City again this year but when we saw Leicester win the league, it was an amazing story.

“So that adds to the attractiveness of the Premier League – worldwide actually – and is part of the reason we invested in it and why we love it and why our fans love it. So yes, the competitive element is very important.”

In Germany and Italy, Amazon holds rights to the Champions League – the competition the Super League would have ripped apart. The Super League project collapsed within 72 hours, prompted by the withdrawal of the six English teams involved.

“We’re very keen to make sure all the best teams are in that and it has the genuineness of a competition,” Green added.

“We think the health of both domestic leagues and the Champions League is important at the moment and it’s something fans understand, and that’s why we’re involved.”

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Amazon Prime Video’s latest project celebrates the relationship between fans and the game. It commissioned photographer Stuart Roy Clarke to visit supporters as they watched the broadcaster’s live games during a six-week period at the end of last year.

The Homes Of Football exhibition is situated outside the National Football Museum in Manchester, which reopens to the public on Thursday, and captures the highs and lows of following the sport during the pandemic.

Green said: “When you go to a stadium, you feed off that incredible kind of communal feeling. But even in people’s homes that still exists, whether it’s with their families, their friends, even their pets.

“Football has been able, in a virtual way, to keep people connected with their community. They know their mates will be watching, they know that it’s still a shared experience, even though they’re in their homes. So I think it has given people that sense of connection despite being physically separated.”

Green insisted Amazon was happy to retain the share of rights it had, despite its obvious buying power.

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“We don’t have to buy everything! That’s not our model,” he said.

“We offer quite a selective amount of sport today, not just in the UK but elsewhere. And that works well. Being able to just include it for free within Prime is just a huge benefit for customers.

“They don’t feel like they’re paying specifically just for the Premier League, they are being offered the Premier League within this broader range of benefit at great value. So we want to keep that value and we think the level of sport we’re offering is good. We’re super-happy to renew the deal.”

Green said Amazon had seen a good return on its investment in the Premier League so far. The first two days of English top-flight football on Amazon Prime Video in December 2019 were the two biggest Prime sign-up days in UK history. Both days beat any previous Prime Day, Black Friday and the day The Grand Tour launched.