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Big Tech's impact on sports being felt

Tim Baysinger
Sep 26, 2022
Illustration of a football in the shape of a video play arrow

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The last two weeks were a watershed moment for streaming sports. And while some fans (and an attorney general) are grumbling about watching with a mouse vs. a clicker, one thing has become apparent: The livestreams were, in fact, a home run.

Why it matters: Tech giants Amazon and Apple are showing that they belong on the same field as the established traditional networks, a move that is set to alter the multibillion-dollar sports broadcast industry.

State of play: Amazon is two games into its first season exclusively streaming "Thursday Night Football," for which it's paying $1 billion per year over the next 11 seasons.

  • Roughly 13 million people watched Amazon's first Thursday night game on Sept. 15, above what the tech giant guaranteed to advertisers. The tech giant's second game on Sept. 22 drew just over 11 million viewers.
  • Meanwhile, Apple was in the middle of two historic home run chases by the Yankees' Aaron Judge and the Cardinals' Albert Pujols. Apple TV+ aired games featuring both teams on Friday night.

Of note: The Yankees tried to get Apple to allow its local RSN to air the game as well, which Apple denied.

  • Some fans were frustrated about having to stream the game vs. watch it on linear TV, despite Apple TV+ offering the game for free.
  • New York attorney general Letitia James even got involved by sending out a statement Friday in support of putting the game on the YES Network.

What's next: Apple is still in the middle of negotiations with the NFL to take over Sunday Ticket next year. Last week, Apple Music signed on to become the new sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show.

The bottom line: Whether fans like streaming or not, it's here to stay.

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