Amazon has hoovered up exclusive live-streaming rights to the U.S. Open Tennis Championships for Prime customers in the U.K. and Ireland in a five-year pact — another move forward in the tech giant’s encroachment on TV sports.
The United States Tennis Asssn. entered into a deal granting Amazon Prime Video exclusive live telecast rights to the U.S. Open in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. The five-year agreement begins with the 2018 U.S. Open, one of the four Grand Slam pro tennis tournaments. In addition to live match play, Prime Video members in the U.K. and Ireland also will have access to on-demand highlights and other content — all for no additional cost.
In the United States, ESPN is the major media-rights holder for the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
The USTA/Amazon announcement comes after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that the ecommerce giant now has more than 100 million Prime members worldwide. It’s the first time Amazon has provided a specific figure, but the company isn’t breaking down that customer base by country.
“Prime Video is focused on bringing customers a great selection of high-quality entertainment across drama, comedy, documentaries, live sports and more,” Jay Marine, VP of Prime Video Europe, said in a statement. “We are delighted to now offer Prime members U.S. Open tennis at no extra cost to their membership, right alongside their favorite shows and movies.”
Prime members in the U.K. and Ireland will be able to watch U.S. Open content across more than 600 devices on the Prime Video app for connected TVs, video-game consoles, set-top boxes and other devices, including Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, mobile devices and the web.
The 2018 U.S. Open — the tournament’s 50th anniversary — is set to run Aug. 27-Sept. 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. This year will be the inaugural season of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, a 14,000-seat facility that’s part of the USTA’s $600 million capital-improvement plan.
Amazon’s acquisition of U.S. Open rights for Prime members across the pond marks its latest foray into live sports. In June, Prime members in the U.K. and Ireland can watch live and on-demand content from the Assn. of Tennis Professionals’ Queen’s Club Championships and Eastbourne International, as part of Amazon’s deal with the ATP that will feature 37 ATP World Tour events annually beginning in 2019.
In addition, through Amazon Channels, Prime members can watch sports by subscribing to services such as CBS All Access and Sports Illustrated TV in the U.S. and the Eurosport Player in the U.K. and Germany. Earlier this year, Prime Video launched UFC pay-per-view events in the U.S. It’s also delivering live and VOD coverage of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour and the Next Gen ATP Finals to customers in more than 200 countries and territories. Last year, Prime Video had global live-streaming rights to the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” 11-game package, which garnered over 18 million unique viewers.
Pictured above: U.S. tennis player Sloane Stephens, winner of the women’s singles title at the 2017 U.S. Open