Amazon may step into regional sports broadcasting


Bankrupt Diamond Sports’ content could end up on Prime

There’s good news for sports fans. There’s a proposed agreement that would ensure video coverage of local and regional sporting events.

While ESPN and the major TV networks cover the top national games, regional sports networks provide broadcasts of local and regional games. Lately, however, those regional networks have struggled.

Under a proposed agreement, Amazon will partner with Diamond Sports as it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Diamond owns 18 regional sports networks covering 37 pro teams in Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Some networks also cover local collegiate games in some markets.

What’s in it for Amazon? Plenty. 

Under the agreement, which is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court, the regional sports networks would be accessible through Amazon Prime – if viewers are members. Currently, most regional sports networks are available through cable TV packages. Amazon may hope the agreement will boost Prime membership.

Under the proposed agreement, Amazon would take a small stake in Diamond Sports and sign a contract to carry regional sports content. Sports fans can watch their local teams on Prime channels where Diamond holds the rights. Cable providers, meanwhile, will also have access.

While the agreement was negotiated with Diamond’s creditors, the professional sports leagues are just now getting a look at the details. Lawyers representing MLB and the NBA say they are still going over the agreement, especially the fine print.

However, there may be a strong incentive to sign off on the agreement since the alternative could be costly. Last season MLB had to provide local coverage of the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres after Diamond was financially unable to do it.

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