Ed Woodward, the vice-chairman of Manchester United Football Club, has said that Amazon and Facebook are likely to bid for English Premier League streaming rights, further escalating the huge financial bonanza for England’s top clubs.
In his quarterly call with bank executives who invest in Manchester United’s shares on the New York stock exchange, Woodward said the pair were very interested in the last round of rights deals for 2016-19, which the Premier League sold primarily to BSkyB and BT for £8.4 billion (€9.53bn).
Last month, Amazon outbid Sky, paying a reported £10 million a year, for the UK rights to the ATP tennis tour, its first major live sport acquisition outside the US. Woodward noted Amazon now streams an NFL game on Thursday nights and that Major League Soccer has a deal with Facebook to show 22 games a season, and he told investors Facebook and Amazon had also been interested in bidding for the IPL cricket rights.
When asked if he expects the online giants to bid in the next round of Premier League rights sales, Woodward replied: “Absolutely, I think they will enter the mix; anecdotally, there was incredibly strong interest in the last cycle. We are hearing that around the Premier League table and we are also hearing that from a European perspective in terms of interest in the Champions League and Europa rights. I do think we are going to see an increasing engagement from these and we would welcome the interest.”