Tuesday 10 November 2020 2:18 pm

Explained: Why Amazon Prime Video is showing the Autumn Nations Cup and what it means for rugby

Amazon Prime Video acquired the rights to rugby’s Autumn Nations Cup for an estimated fee of £16m-£20m and it looks a potential win for all parties.

Years ago, it may have been seen as a risk selling your media rights to Amazon. 

But now the e-commerce giant looks like it could make a lasting impact on all corners of the sports industry. 

Read more: The definitive live sport TV guide you need to make it through lockdown 2

Amazon Prime has already established a reputation for delivering high-level production in live sport, which we have seen through its coverage of the Premier League, men’s and women’s tennis, and the NFL.

Amazon’s acquisition of the Autumn Nations Cup is similar in profile to its successful Premier League deal last season. 

It provides the company with an opportunistic broadcast window during the lucrative Christmas-shopping period.

The company reported 35 per cent growth in subscribers over the fourth quarter following its exclusive live-streaming of top-flight football.

Rugby rights currently lag behind those for football, cricket and F1. Source: Nielsen

There are few prominent sporting events up for grabs in November or December that have the reach and audience — over 30m watched England alone in last year’s Six Nations Championship — to get into the public’s front of mind.

The Autumn Nations Cup also offers an opportunity for Amazon to build a database around sports fans, a demographic you want to unlock.

Data from our Nielsen Fan Insights identifies rugby union as having a sizeable fanbase that is younger and more affluent than the general population.

Autumn Nations Cup ‘aligns with Amazon DNA’

For rugby union it is a step in building a more sustainable financial future amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

But, more significantly, it offers the opportunity to break traditional models and help grow the sport. 

The Autumn Nations Cup is unique and innovative and aligns with Amazon’s business DNA which is all about invention and innovation. It will want to do something that is wholly different, not a vanilla broadcast. 

Amazon is a market leader when it comes to live content interactivity and experience, and it will want to bring that to the stage. 

This is a great opportunity to see rugby in a new light and attract a new and potentially younger audience.

Finally, Amazon’s ecosystem is such that it can deliver an e-commerce solution that enables users to buy merchandise, such as their favourite player’s jersey in just a few clicks or words whilst never leaving the broadcast. 

That capability has the potential to change the way rights are valued permanently and drive incremental revenue for rugby.

Phelan Hill MBE is head of strategy and consulting at Nielsen Sports.