Amazon Prime Video is now showing live sport – here’s why that’s important

The streaming giant launched its live coverage of Next Gen ATP tennis today, but what's next?

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 07:  (CHINA OUT) Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot against Vasek Pospisil of Canada during the Men's singles Second round match on day five of the 2015 China Open at the China National Tennis Centre on October 7, 2015 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Hao Yi/Beijing Youth Daily/VCG via Getty Images, BA)

Undoubtedly keen to set itself apart from direct competitor Netflix, Amazon has set its sights upon one of the most lucrative markets in broadcasting –  live sport.

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Starting this week (Tuesday 3rd November), Amazon Prime Video subscribers will be able to stream the Next Gen ATP Finals men’s youth tennis tournament live.

This is the first step in what is set to be a key development with live sports rights, with Amazon showing a keen interest in the market.

A recent reported $50m deal with the NFL means that 200 countries around the world have been watching Thursday night American Football games live on Amazon Prime Video since late September. And, if Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward is to be believed, Amazon are considering Premier League streaming rights, too.

Here’s why Amazon’s foray into sport is no small matter.

What live sport does Amazon have the rights for?

So far, Amazon has deals with the NFL and the ATP World Tour. The deal with the American Football league encompasses ten Thursday Night Football (sadly corresponding to 1.25am Friday morning kick-off times for UK viewers) match-ups in the 2017 NFL season, having kicked off with the Green Bay Packers’ defeat of the Chicago Bears on 29th September.

According to reports, Amazon also paid £10m a year for the rights for the ATP World Tour, meaning that Prime subscribers will soon be able to watch Nadal, Federer and Djokovic and the world’s best male players live across the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and Masters 500 events from around the world, including tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Paris, Miami, Indian Wells and Shanghai.

As a primer (excuse the pun), from 7th to 11th November, the streaming giant will be broadcasting live matches from the Next Gen ATP Finals men’s youth tennis tournament in Milan. The tournament showcases up and coming men’s tennis stars 21 and under.

How can I watch the ATP Finals men’s youth tennis tournament live on Amazon?

Amazon Prime Video subscribers can watch the youth tournament here from Tuesday 7th to Saturday 11th November.

On days 1, 2 and 3, the group stage matches will begin broadcasting at 1pm.

The semi-finals will air on day 4 from 6pm, and the third place play off and the final will air on day 5 from 6pm.

When will the senior men’s tennis begin on Amazon?

The ATP World Tour is expected to begin broadcasting on Amazon in 2019, after the tour’s current contract with Sky runs out at the end of 2018.

Is Amazon going to show live football too?

Sky and BT currently share live Premier League rights, with their three year deal costing a reported £5.14bn. That deal runs out at the end of the 2018-19 season.

“Absolutely, I think they [tech giants Amazon and Facebook] will enter the mix,” Man United’s vice-chairman Ed Woodward told shareholders earlier this year. “Anecdotally, there was incredibly strong interest in the last cycle. We are hearing that around the Premier League table and we are also hearing that from a European perspective in terms of interest in the Champions League and Europa rights. I do think we are going to see an increasing engagement from these and we would welcome the interest.”

What has this got to do with men’s youth tennis?

Amazon’s jump into the realm of live sports broadcasting – marked for the first time outside the US with the Next Gen ATP Finals – feels like a statement of intent.

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Considering Netflix are yet to dip a toe in this particular ocean, it could be their best opportunity to pip their closest competitor in the move into sports broadcasting, and to build up a strong CV ahead of potential forays into the most hotly contested tournaments in the world.