Amazon’s next Prime membership benefit could be the ability to stream live sports.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Amazon is in talks with leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and a handful of others about live game rights.
The fact that Amazon wants to stream live sports isn’t a new development. But the Journal did have a noteworthy tidbit: Amazon could offer a “premium, exclusive sports package” to those who pay for a $99 per year, or $8.99 per month, Prime membership.
Amazon is exploring streaming rights to multiple sports at a variety of levels. The Journal reported that Amazon wanted to exclusively license NBA’s League Pass streaming product; it is also reaching out to traditional broadcasters like Univision and ESPN about the content they own but don’t end up airing on TV.
Outside of deals like Twitter’s streaming partnership with the NFL this season — which Amazon bid on — it will be tough for Amazon to do something with the top leagues, given existing TV contracts that run through the next several years.
But the Journal noted how Amazon may first start with the “long tail” of sports, which include less popular activities like lacrosse or gymnastics. It could potentially make revenue by targeting viewers with sport-specific products via its e-commerce marketplace — selling gymnastics gear to the people watching gymnastics content, for example.
Heading up Amazon’s sports rights efforts is James DeLorenzo, who came to Amazon in May as its new head of sports for “Amazon Video Channels.” DeLorenzo is a digital media veteran, having worked in executive roles at CBS and Time-owned Sports Illustrated, where he helped launch the 120 Sports digital venture.
Amazon has already waded into sports programming. Its series All or Nothing, which followed the Arizona Cardinals through their run to the NFC championship game last season, premiered on Amazon Video over the summer.
In July, Amazon said it planned to double down on its spending for video content during the second half of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky added that the company will “nearly triple our offering to customers of new Amazon original TV shows and movies” compared to last year.
Amazon, which is preparing to expand its video service worldwide, uses video content to draw in more Prime members. In his annual letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted Amazon’s original shows, saying how they “feed the Prime flywheel.”
“These shows are great for customers, and they feed the Prime flywheel – Prime members who watch Prime Video are more likely to convert from a free trial to a paid membership, and more likely to renew their annual subscriptions,” Bezos wrote.