Amazon — in another signal that it has big sports ambitions for Prime Video — grabbed local-market streaming rights for games played one of its hometown teams: Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders FC.
Under the three-year deal with the soccer team, Prime Video will become the sole digital streaming destination for all non-nationally televised Sounders FC matches throughout the club’s home broadcast territory in Washington State. The deal kicks off with the club’s Aug. 26 match against the L.A. Galaxy.
In 2018, YouTube TV had inked a similar deal with the Sounders that rolled off at the end of 2019. Amazon’s deal with the team is set to run through the 2022 Major League Soccer season. Fox affiliate JOEtv continues to be the regional TV home of Seattle Sounders FC, alongside radio partners Sports Radio 950 KJR AM and El Rey 1360 AM.
The Amazon-Sounders pact marks the second time Prime Video has reached a streaming agreement with a sports franchise. A year ago, Amazon secured a minority stake in YES Network, the regional sports network home of the New York Yankees. Amazon had planned to stream 21 Yankees games to Prime members in the team’s New York metro footprint, but that has been canceled because of Major League Baseball’s COVID-shortened season. Asked if Prime Video has an agreement to carry Yankees games regionally in 2021 (or beyond), a company rep said, “We’ll evaluate our plans at the conclusion of this season. However, as a minority owner, Amazon has a long-term investment in YES Network.”
The Sounders FC’s regional broadcast territory extends throughout the entirety of Washington State, inclusive of the traditional Seattle-Tacoma-Everett television DMA as well as Spokane, Yakima, Tri-Cities and Vancouver, Wash. The soccer club are the defending MLS champs, having won the league’s 2019 cup. Sounders FC received an MLS charter in November 2007 and has set a league record by qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs in every year of its existence.
“When I think about our hometown, few brands are as closely associated with Seattle’s sense of innovation and ingenuity as Amazon,” Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer said in a statement. “This is a proud day for our club, as we’re now able to bring our fans Sounders FC matches on the world’s premier video streaming service through a company that is synonymous with our city’s culture.”
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the Sounders home matches are scheduled to be played without fans (a practice most other sporting events are following).
MLS says it is continuing to work with infectious-disease advisers as well as advisors for the MLSPA on plans for testing. All players, technical staff and essential club staff are being tested every other day, including the day before each match day.
Pictured above: Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris