Sports Finance Report: Amazon Fails to Deliver with U.S. Open Coverage
Editor’s Note: Welcome to a daily column breaking down the day’s biggest stories in sports finance. It comes to us via our friends at JohnWallStreet, publisher of a free e-mail newsletter (you can sign up here). It’s sports business with a financial spin. Howie Long-Short and Fan Marino will be providing their expert opinions on each story. They have slightly different areas of expertise. Fan Marino is a firm believer that the SEC is the premier football conference. Howie Long-Short knows it as the Securities & Exchange Commission. Fan Marino lives and dies with the college selection of 5 star , blue chip recruits. Howie Long-Short spends his days analyzing blue chip stocks. Howie Long-Short knows that Black Monday occurred on October 19th, 1987. Fan Marino swears it happens every January after Week 17. You get the point.
Amazon Fails to Deliver with U.S. Open Coverage
English tennis fans have been utterly disappointed with Amazon’s exclusive broadcast coverage (in U.K. and Ireland) of the U.S. Open. 90% of the +/- 650 subscriber reviews posted assigned the Prime Instant Video service a one or two-star rating (80% gave it one-star), with most subscribers complaining about picture quality, sound quality, inability to record (or replay) matches and the limited choice of courts to watch. Subscribers (paying $10.50/mo.) didn’t appreciate Amazon’s separate highlights service any more than the live broadcast feeds, 96% of the reviews submitted about that service came with one or two star ratings. Amazon plans to add increase the number of matches available to its on-demand subscribers to compensate for any action missed.
Howie Long-Short: Amazon is paying $40 million (over 5 years) for the exclusive rights to broadcast the Grand Slam event. For comparison purposes, ESPN is paying $70 million/year for the exclusive broadcast rights (television, digital and streaming) to the U.S. Open and Open Series events here in the U.S, Latin America and Canada.
Earlier this week, AMZN shares traded at over $2,000/share for the 1st time ever. Morgan Stanley says there is still room to run though, as they’ve increased their price target on the company to $2,500 (+25% upside). Morgan Stanley analysts cited the company’s “rapidly growing, increasingly large, high margin revenue streams (advertising, AWS, subscriptions).” It does need to be noted that $2,500 is the highest price target for the company on Wall Street. AMZN shares are up 68% YTD, they’ll open at $2,002.38 on Friday 8.31.18.
Fan Marino: The U.S. Open is the first sporting event that Amazon (AMZN) has held exclusive rights to and they hardly look like a serious threat to overtake traditional sports broadcasters anytime soon, but it’s unfair to single out Amazon. Back in June, we wrote about the Australian OTT service Optus authorizing government-owned SBS to broadcast World Cup matches amidst public pressure, with coder issues preventing thousands of fans from watching games. YouTube (see: England/Croatia), DAZN (see: Serie A) and Formula 1 (see: Spanish Grand Prix) have all failed to deliver at times, as well.
If English sports fans are this upset about missing first round U.S. Open coverage, imagine what their reaction will be if they’re to miss English Premier League action. Back in June, Amazon acquired a package that contains the exclusive broadcast rights to 20 EPL games/season. One of the two full fixture rounds AMZN has the rights to is on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), giving the e-commerce giant less than 4 months to figure it out.