How Amazon & Netflix could change football
“All or nothing: Manchester City” is being released on Amazon Prime on August 17 as an eight-part behind-the-scenes documentary, allowing viewers inside the usually highly-private dressing room, as well as providing a glimpse into the players’ personal stories.
Football has long straddled the line between sport and entertainment, with fans’ appetites no longer satiated by the action on the pitch.
This has led some elite clubs — alongside streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix — to enter into reality TV-style productions.
Last year, Netflix released its own football docuseries following Italian club Juventus through the 2017-18 Serie A season.
“(Football) has always been in the entertainment sector,” Daniel Geey, a lawyer specializing in sports broadcasting, tells CNN.
“It’s just been in a privileged position that fans are so passionate about watching their team and following their team.
“But I think outside of the core offering, clubs are seeing the opportunities to increase brand exposure and also monetize it — being able to receive significant sums in order to drive extra revenue.”
The “core offering” in football’s case comes in the form on TV rights deals — primarily from BT Sport and Sky in the UK — which pay the Premier League and its clubs billions of pounds for live action.
Though the deal for 2019-20 until 2021-22 was down from the previous three-year cycle, it was still worth $5.85 billion.
The new deal saw Amazon become a player in the live Premier League rights game, though at present they will only show 20 games per season in two specific game weeks.
“Amazon have obviously very tentatively dipped their toes in the water for live action,” Geey explained.
“But outside of that, they do have a comprehensive highlights package that can be shown throughout the season as well. So again, it really is ‘content is king’ for what platforms like Amazon, Netflix and others need to be able to drive consumers and subscribers.
“To me, sports just feels like another string to their bow and it’s a natural progression. If it’s not live and exclusive, then at least it’s interesting, important content that people want to be able to view.”
Geey describes the partnership between Manchester City and Amazon as a “two-way driver.”
For those who already have a subscription, the foray into sport provides even more diverse content.
For avid football fans or supporters of clubs, it increases the possibility of them buying a subscription, even if it only on a short-term basis.
“But remember, the basis of Amazon prime is very quick physical product deliveries for that £79 ($103) a year,” Geey says.
“So it might well be that part of the aim for Amazon with the City documentary and live Premier League rights is to actually then cross sell into the physical product space and be able to generate greater revenue.
“It can sell and then presumably also have a greater amount of data on their consumers to understand what their subscribers and consumers are buying, what they’re looking for and what they’re watching, which will then be very valuable to understand the buying habits and understand generally what people are wanting to spend their money on.”
Football club YouTube channels have long provided exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes access, but lacked the production quality companies like Amazon can provide.
Geey says it is unlikely that docuseries such as “All or Nothing” will replace clubs’ in-house productions, but rather run alongside them.
“The Amazon and Netflix types of deals are in for a specific period of time, for a particular narrative, to put across an image that will probably be complementary to those in house capabilities,” Geey says.
“They’ll just be an additional well-rounded, produced and slickly managed additional piece of marketing that obviously looks deeper into a club.
“It’s dressing room stuff, particular half time messages talking about disappointments, things that haven’t gone well.
“It feels a bit different to what’s already out there at present and presumably that’s what’ they were aiming for. We see a little bit more seeing the ups and downs.”