The top 10 most expensive cable affiliate fees in the U.S. last year were all sports channels — mostly regional sports networks (RSNs) — with ESPN being by far the most expensive, per SNL Kagan data provided to Axios.

Expand chart
Adapted from Kagan, a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: They're expensive because the bulk of their content comes from licensing sports rights, which as noted above, are getting more expensive.

So why would Amazon want to get into such a business?

  1. To bolster Prime membership: Per The New York Times' Edmund Lee: "At a time when pay TV is in decline, sports content drives viewership across platforms. Owning rights to big franchises would help Amazon market its Prime program (which costs $119 a year), especially if that membership included access to those games. That, in turn, could add more revenue, as Prime members tend to buy more on Amazon."
  2. It's easier than going directly to the sports leagues: Per BTIG Managing Director and Media Analyst Rich Greenfield in a note to clients: "While ultimately tech platforms could simply buy local rights directly from leagues/owners, the quickest way to enter the local/regional sports licensing game could be through the acquisition of RSNs."

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 20,001,019 — Total deaths: 733,897 — Total recoveries — 12,209,074Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,085,821 — Total deaths: 163,370 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. Politics: Trump claims he would have not called for Obama to resign over 160,000 virus deathsHouse will not hold votes until Sept. 14 unless stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Business: Richer Americans are more comfortable eating out.
  5. Public health: A dual coronavirus and flu threat is set to deliver a winter from hellAt least 48 local public health leaders have quit or been fired during pandemic.
  6. Sports: The cost of kids losing gym class — College football is on the brink.
  7. World: Europe's CDC recommends new restrictions amid "true resurgence in cases."
21 mins ago - World

Protests in Belarus turn deadly following sham election

An arrest today in Minsk. Photo: Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Getty

Protesters and security forces are clashing across Belarus tonight, with at least one person dead, hundreds injured and thousands arrested.

Why it matters: Sunday’s rigged presidential elections have yielded political uncertainty unlike any seen in Aleksander Lukashenko’s 26-year tenure. After claiming an implausible 80% of the vote, Lukashenko is using every tool in the authoritarian arsenal to maintain his grip on power.

Updated 27 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 20 million worldwide on Monday evening, Johns Hopkins data shows.

The big picture: World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference as the world approached the milestone that 750,000 deaths were set to be recorded this week. "Behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering. Every life lost matters," he said. "But I want to be clear: there are green shoots of hope and... it's never too late to turn the outbreak around."