US Open only on Amazon for British fans

LONDON • The US Open will become the first Grand Slam tennis tournament to be broadcast solely online in the United Kingdom and Ireland, after e-commerce giant Amazon signed a five-year rights deal on Thursday.

The deal with the United States Tennis Association begins at this year's tournament from Aug 27 to Sept 9 and follows on from a similar contract signed between Amazon and the ATP last August.

That agreement to also broadcast 37 ATP Tour events, including nine Masters tournaments, does not kick in until next year.

Matches will be available to watch live and on demand for members of Amazon Prime Video, its Internet video service.

Tennis is Amazon Prime's first major foray into live sports broadcasting in the UK and Ireland, having so far baulked at the price of domestic rights for English Premier League football matches.

Amazon is still mulling over the possibility of bidding to stream EPL games from 2019 to 2022, as it looks to add to its 100 million Prime subscribers.

Two packages of 20 matches each are yet to be allocated after Sky and BT Sport signed deals worth a combined £4.46 billion (S$8.22 billion) to show 160 live games.

According to the Guardian, Amazon snapped up the US Open rights, which had previously been owned by Eurosport, for about US$40 million (S$52.5 million). Eurosport, which is owned by Discovery, struck a deal to broadcast the competition in the rest of Europe for another five years last November.

Streaming live sports is a new, integral part of Amazon's strategy to encourage more people to sign up to its Prime shopping club and spend more on retail goods. And it has shown its desire to become a major player when it comes to on-demand and live TV.

Nearly 2 million people logged in to Amazon.com for the online retailer's first live stream of the US National Football League's Thursday Night Football last September.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2018, with the headline 'US Open only on Amazon for British fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe