Amazon could be set to acquire its largest set of live sports rights yet.
The streamer is in talks to invest in the bankrupt regional sports network operator Diamond Sports Group, according to The Wall Street Journal. DSG, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, currently carries games via its Bally Sports-branded channels for more than 40 teams across MLB, the NBA and NHL, and a deal with Amazon would eventually put those broadcasts on Prime Video. It is unclear how much money Amazon would invest or what size equity stake it would acquire, but DSG has received support from key creditors to proceed with the talks.
How Did We Get Here?
In March, DSG filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Since then, missed payments and other financial issues have caused DSG’s rights deals with the Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns, San Diego Padres, Utah Jazz, and Atlantic Coast Conference to end. Most recently, DSG has been working with MLB on a deal to retain 2024 game broadcasts for as many as 11 other teams. DSG’s future in sports broadcasting was already growing increasingly uncertain, as its NBA deals are set to expire after this season.
What Does It Mean?
For Amazon, a deal with DSG would seemingly provide even more live content on Prime Video, which is seeing viewership growth with the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games this season and is exploring bidding on NBA rights. Amazon is paying $1 billion a year for the rights to TNF and also has international deals to broadcast, among other offerings, the Premier League in the U.K. and the NBA in Brazil. Amazon also recently inked a U.S. deal with the fighting promotion Premier Boxing Champions.
Investment from Amazon would provide crucial funding for DSG, which has been trying to avoid liquidation as it sorts out its financial future. Partnering with Amazon could also leave leagues more willing to work with DSG moving forward.
A deal is not imminent, and the reported effort could still fall through, per the WSJ. But DSG would no doubt like to sort out its next steps sooner rather than later. Completing an investment before the start of the coming MLB season would be key for Amazon, especially if it plans on incorporating a full season of baseball broadcasts on Prime Video in 2024.