Amazon has snapped up its first major live TV sports rights deal outside the US after outbidding Sky for control of the ATP World Tour.
The deal will see Amazon broadcast the majority of top flight men’s tennis outside the four grand slam tournaments and will include the end of year ATP World Tour finals at the O2 Arena in London.
Sky’s current agreement with the ATP is due to expire in 2018 at which point Amazon will begin showing the sport on its Prime Video subscription service.
Amazon was awarded the contract with a £10m a year bid, £2m more than what Sky currently pays. The contract covers 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.
The partnership with the ATP is Amazon’s first significant play outside the US where it recently bought the broadcast rights to the NFL’s 10 Thursday Night Football games. The company subsequently began selling adverting packages around its live streams for a reported $2.8m.
Sky’s savings from losing out on the current deal could benefit it when its faces off with BT Sport for the next Premier League rights deal early next year.
Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive of Sky, said last week that the company had “walked away” from bidding for some sports rights recently as there was better value in spending the cash elsewhere in the business
Dror Ginzberg, chief executive of video creation platform Wochit said Amazon’s move was hugely significant because it represented the “first move to take on British broadcasters directly for sought after sports rights”.
He added: “Amazon is clearly trying to build its credentials in live sports broadcasting as it has also taken over from Twitter in broadcasting this coming season’s Thursday night NFL games. Given that the Premier League’s rights are up for grabs next year too, Amazon could be a player in this bidding war, which means it may even surpass the previous record deal of over £5bn secured in 2015.”
The absence of the ATP builds on a wider tennis exodus for Sky after it lost out to Eurosport for the broadcast rights to the US Open, one of its longest major sports rights deals. Sky Sports recently replaced its numbered channels with dedicated channels focused on specific sports – led by football, golf and cricket, however tennis coverage has been relegated to appearing on one of two mixed sport channels.