Amazon has outmuscled Sky Sports to win exclusive rights to ATP Tour tennis in the UK, signalling the online behemoth’s growing ambition to own live sport properties.
The deal, reportedly worth up to £10m a year, will make the Amazon Prime Video subscription service the go-to destination for watching Andy Murray, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal outside of grand slams from 2019.
Sky, who are believed to have paid about £8m for the existing deal, will have no top level tennis in its sports offering after it ended its 25-year coverage of the US Open last year.
Amazon’s move for the rights, which cover the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London as well as Masters 1000 and Masters 500 events, is one of the clearest realisations yet of predictions that Silicon Valley’s big beasts will rival traditional broadcasters for sports rights.
Even the Premier League, who will open the bidding process for the next round of TV rights at the end of this year, has been spoken of as a potential target for an Amazon, YouTube or Facebook.
Sky has opted to walk away from certain sports rights in recent years, in part due to a fiercely competitive bidding war with BT for Premier League coverage.
There was no room for a tennis-specific channel when Sky announced it was replacing numbered channels to themed offerings.