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Big Tech eyes live sports broadcasts

The Olympic rings as snow falls
The Olympic rings in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Photo: Francois-Xavier Marit / AFP / Getty Images

The year is 2034 — 16 years from now, writes Variety's Todd Spangler — and the way you watch sports could be quite different.

The state of play: "[N]o company is known to be making a play for the rights to the Olympics just yet. But as NBC is set to blanket the two biggest sporting events on American calendars — Super Bowl LII (Feb. 4) and the 2018 Winter Olympics (Feb. 9-25) — across screens everywhere next month, tech titans are making an unmistakable advance on sports telecasts."

  • "Over the past two years, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Verizon and Yahoo have picked up smaller sets of mostly nonexclusive rights to different packages of live pro games, essentially rebroadcasting what’s seen on TV to a fraction of the audiences coming to linear channels."
  • "In the U.S., TV and streaming rights for the most popular leagues are (mostly) locked up until 2021. But digital platforms may strike sooner on foreign shores: In the U.K., for example, bids for English Premier League soccer rights are on the table this year — and Amazon has been rumored to be a serious contender."
  • A look at the future: "The Olympics that have been a fixture on channels owned by NBCUniversal since 2002 have disappeared from TV altogether. Instead, the Winter Games stream live to your phone courtesy of Amazon, which bid the rights away from all of the biggest media companies. The downhill skiing competition has never looked better in 16K screen resolution, with not a hint of buffering."

P.S. Fox Broadcasting wrapping up 'Thursday Night Football'' deal with NFL: "Fox is expected to pay significantly more than the $450 million that current rights holders NBC and CBS Corp. paid this past season." (Wall Street Journal)