It was one of the shocking announcements of this June 2022. Apple Just Signed an MLS Broadcast Deal, the largest soccer championship in the United States, at a cost of 2.5 billion dollars. As of 2023 and through 2032, the American public will therefore have to subscribe to the Apple TV+ offering in order to watch the matches previously broadcast on a cable channel.
Apple thinks “the ideal partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS”† This operation follows Apple’s first foray into the world of sports on TV. Apple already had a baseball game broadcast in its hands major every Friday night. And it’s a safe bet that the giant won’t stop there and will certainly try to get a few broadcast slots for NFL (US football), NBA (basketball) and NHL (ice hockey) games.
Amazon, a sports rights pioneer
Before Apple, Amazon had led the way. In France, the American won the rights to Ligue 1 football, the most popular sport in Europe and South America. Access to matches is reserved for customers who have subscribed to an offer of 12.99 euros per month, in addition to the Amazon Prime subscription (5.99 euros per month or 49 euros per year).
Amazon also picked up the rights broadcast of the night match of the Roland Garros tennis tournament. These two major events, previously held by public broadcasters or French players (excluding Bein Sport), are now reserved for subscribers. This raises concerns among market players, but also causes controversy among viewers.
He who does not jump is not GAFAM
The Nadal-Djokovic match at the Roland Garros tournament is a typical example of this transformation of the audiovisual industry. This summit was planned during the night session, in the first part of the evening. Amazon therefore owned the broadcasting rights to this match, as well as some other matches co-broadcast with France Télévisions.
A scandal for many viewers and market players. “This decision shocks me deeply, said to Figaro Delphine Ernotte, president of France Televisions. I find it extremely shocking to favor a US player like Amazon at the expense of public service, especially at an event funded in whole or in part with public money.she denounced.
Marion Bartoli, consultant for Amazon Prime Video, recalled the terms of the contract linking the FFT to Amazon. “Amazon has signed a contract stating that the evening game will be the best game of the season”she explained about Europe 1. It makes sense for the tournament to live up to its commitments (…) It made perfect sense that Prime Video had this match”†
To calm things down, Amazon Prime had decided to broadcast the match publicly. But the problem is still not solved.
Sports on TV soon in the hands of GAFAM?
If the controversy is understandable, it is necessary to replace the TV broadcasts of the most popular sports in an industry. And at a time when viewers want better picture quality, broadcasts without advertising, after working hours, federations have to find other financing.
When signing the Roland Garros broadcasting contract, the FFT indicated that the arrival of a new broadcaster: increase in the amount of duties by 25%while an edition of Roland Garros trades around 20 million euros.
The FFT used these few extra millions to oversee the production of images, work previously managed directly by France TV. At the same time, the public group was also able to extend its broadcast times with matches in the morning “40% more tennis in the great outdoors”† These few million will also be used to renovate court facilities.
For Ligue 1, it’s a different matter. Broadcasting matches on Amazon is just a consequence of the auction tree during the negotiations with the LFP. After the Mediapro (Telefoot channel) fiasco, the LFP launched a new tender. Canal+ and Amazon emerged as big winners with €332 million for the 2021-2024 seasons for the first and €250 million a year for the second, respectively, for the broadcast of most Ligue 1 matches.
If the amount of the bids is not equal to the billion that Mediapro releases, it remains significant. Also, Who else but the GAFAMs will have enough resources in 2022 to compete at auctions?
Remember that by 2022, Apple and Amazon will be among the most valued companies in the world. HASpple has surpassed $3 trillion market cap at the beginning of the year. At the same time, Amazon crossed the $1,700 billion mark.
It is therefore difficult to imagine public broadcasters or national private groups competing with these monsters. Also, it seems written that sports on TV will be broadcast on streaming platforms in the future from these digital giants, for a monthly subscription.
The beauty of sports…