For the next episode of “The Marchand & Ourand Sports Media Podcast,” John Ourand and I have Jay Marine, the head of Amazon Global Sports, as a guest.
It is a big week for Amazon. On Black Friday, it will have the Jets-Dolphins game at 3 p.m. ET, which Amazon and the NFL hopes evolves into a tradition as much a part of Americana as the Thanksgiving Day games.
Marine has not done many interviews, and he was open and informative with us.
The pod will not be released until Wednesday morning, but I’m going to present some of the highlights of the half-hour interview:
1️⃣ Marine confirmed that Amazon Prime Video is interested in the NBA.
The NBA will be eligible to fully negotiate with other parties outside of Disney (ABC/ESPN) and Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT) in the second quarter of next year. The deals with the two incumbents expire after the 2024-25 season.
Amazon wants postseason action.
“Would playoffs — something like the playoffs — be an important part? Yes, I think that is fair to say,” Marine said.
2️⃣ Interestingly, when asked about the NBA, Marine mentioned it being a “very global game and a very young fan base.”
That could be a tell that the company may not just want a domestic deal.
3️⃣ When discussing what Amazon is trying to do with Prime membership, it is all about adding value — to bring new people in and to have everyone stick around.
Marine sounded very bullish that the NBA is the type of property that does that.
4️⃣ For Black Friday’s game between the Jets and Dolphins, Amazon Prime Video is going to have some special elements during the game, including exclusive deals for holiday shoppers.
5️⃣ He wants Amazon to deliver a great, entertaining experience, beginning with the main broadcast featuring Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit and on the alt-cast with “Dude Perfect,” whom Marine sounded particularly high on. Post-game, they will have a Garth Brooks concert.
He promised the placement of the Black Friday deals would not be too intrusive, but they will be present.
Here is the money quote:
“You’re going to see us introduce various things, including dropping exclusive deals for our viewers throughout the game that you’re only going to get if you’re watching,” Marine said.
6️⃣ Finally, why are sports important to Amazon Prime?
“First of all, everything with us starts with the customer and starts with Prime,” Marine said. “We sit around and say, ‘How do we make Prime better? How do we make Prime more valuable?’ We want it to be the best membership program in the world. And what I mean by ‘best’ is we have to be the most valuable. We want to give more than we’re charging.
“Sports are uniquely valuable. They are must-watch. They’re non-substitutable. If you love the Premier League, you can’t watch rugby instead. I love rugby. If you love the NFL, you’re going to watch the NFL. That is uniquely valuable and at large scale: large audiences and large fan bases. They’ve been uniquely expensive for that reason because everybody knows that. So the trick is — and everyone has different business models — for us, it’s about what sports are going to add value to Prime and really move the needle for us and be valuable for that Prime member base. That’s sort of the starting point.
“Then, it gets to: [The] economics have to work for us and the leagues, of course. We don’t have to have everything. So I think you’ve seen that in our approach. We don’t have to fill hours or a linear schedule, and so we can really be selective. And we don’t need everybody, everything, even in a given property.
“This is true in Europe, by the way. Champions League, we have one big match of the week. But the things we have, we want them to be meaningful and big enough. And so that’s why you see us looking at the largest tier-one properties out there.”
7️⃣ Marine addresses all these topics in more depth and talks about interest in local rights, which Amazon is already into with the Yankees.
The idea of teaming with ESPN is brought up and much more.
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