Amazon invests in Diamond Sports Group
The GIST: Diamond Sports Group (DSG), owner of regional sports networks (RSNs) like Bally Sports, was thrown a fiscal lifeline on Wednesday. In addition to restructuring its $8.6B debt, DSG secured a key investment and distribution deal from Amazon, which has been eager to expand its sports footprint. No longer a diamond in the rough.
The details: In exchange for an initial $115M investment, Amazon will gain a 15% stake in DSG, while its Prime Video platform will provide direct-to-consumer access to MLB, NBA, and NHL games. Despite the bailout, DSG will likely need to rebuild its RSN empire — the Bally Sports brand and its ten-year, $85M deal with DSG will end six years early.
- One potential hang-up? Bankruptcy previously forced DSG to return media rights to NBA and NHL teams after the 2023-24 season, but that’s up in the air thanks to Amazon. DSG is currently drafting a similar agreement with MLB, but now the baseball league wants to negotiate a specific contract with Amazon for rights beyond 2024.
The context: Business is booming for Amazon’s sports ventures. Thursday Night Football viewership was up 24% YoY, the 2023 WNBA season introduced popular Thursday night games on Prime, and the 2023 Commissioner’s Cup drew the largest audience for a W game on Amazon, nearly doubling YoY.
- Amazon will also apply its successful appointment viewing model to the NWSL with Friday night games, and after pivoting away from its previous Premier League deal, new Champions League and UEFA partnerships could tackle Europe’s women’s game. Qué golazo.
The takeaway: It’s business as usual for the company that began as a bookseller and rapidly became everything to everyone. Since live sports often score record viewership, it’s smart for Amazon to try to be one-stop-shop for sports — especially as ESPN enters the streaming space. Giving new meaning to Primetime.