Amazon bids to beef up Europe sports rights team ahead of more acquisitions
By Jonathan Rest
Amazon, the online retail giant, is seeking to recruit a senior sports rights executive in Europe, amid plans to ramp up its spending in the sector.
The company has begun the search for a head of rights acquisition for sport on the continent, who will be based in London.
The successful candidate will lead rights negotiations and acquisitions, and will play an integral role in building out the firm's sports offering in major territories across Europe.
Amazon said it is seeking a senior official with experience of sports rights, working with rights-holders, negotiating complex agreements, developing new business models and delivering results in a "dynamic, fast-paced environment."
He or she must have: "proven negotiation and deal-doing capability" in the sports rights sector; "exceptional" partner relationship management and trust-building; and "strong commercial judgement combined with an analytical mindset."
English Premier League soccer will come to Amazon from the 2019-20 season, with the portal having secured domestic rights to 20 matches per season played across Bank Holiday weekends and one midweek fixture programme, along with weekly highlights to be shown throughout the season.
Additionally in the UK, it holds exclusive UK rights to tennis' US Open in a five-year, £30-million ($39.5-million) deal that began in 2018, and in January its exclusive £10-million-a-year deal for the ATP World Tour kicked in.
Amazon also holds exclusive global rights to the Laver Cup, the international men’s team competition between Europe and the rest of the world, and USA's AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.
Amazon began streaming live sport in September 2017, with a contract to show 10 Thursday night NFL American football matches. It remains the exclusive global online home of the Thursday evening games for at least 2019, in a two-year, $130-million deal.
Last August, Amazon hired Marie Donoghue, a former executive at ESPN, the US cable sports broadcaster, as vice-president of sports video, based in USA.
During her time at ESPN, Donoghue managed the broadcaster's global strategy, business affairs and business development, and she was closely involved in negotiating and renewing programming rights deals with major North American Leagues, including the NFL, NBA and MLB.
Meanwhile, Amazon has added MLB.TV, the online streaming platform of Major League Baseball, to its Prime Video platform in USA.
Prime members can subscribe for $24.99 per month or $118.99 for a season pass after a free seven-day trial. Content includes live out-of-market games.
Donoghue said: "Prime members love the convenience of streaming live sports on-the-go – and now with MLB.TV, they won’t have to miss watching their favourite teams play. We know Prime members can’t get enough of sports, and we’re dedicated to providing more access to the Major League Baseball games they want."
Chris Tully, MLB executive vice-president for global media, added: "Prime Video will be another great distribution platform for out-of-market fans to have daily access to live baseball. Combining MLB.TV with Prime Video will provide a seamless experience for subscribers to follow their favourite teams and players."
Prime members in USA can already subscribe to basketball's NBA League Pass and golf's PGA Tour Live, while the Eurosport Player, the streaming platform of the Discovery-owned pan-European sports broadcaster, is available in the UK and Germany.