Search giant Google, along with social media platforms Facebook and Amazon, is expanding its reach into live sports broadcast, which used to be the domain of TV.
Google’s YouTube will already be streaming Major League Soccer through an agreement with Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders club. Facebook will also be exclusively streaming professional baseball games every Wednesday following a $35 million deal for the social media platform to broadcast 25 games.
Amazon, meanwhile, is working to make its Amazon Prime Video as the main platform to stream ATP World Tour and the US Open.
For tech companies, live sports broadcast is an add-on service to their streaming services. Facebook has Watch, Amazon has Prime while Google has YouTube. All these platforms are showing original content, seen to rival Netflix.
Sportsrocket founder Brian Bedol told NBCNews that TV has a reason to be worried on the emergence of Internet as an alternative platform to watch live sports games. However, this won’t happen overnight just because of the economics of scale.
“It’s likely that as the revenue shifts that we’ll see more rights in the control of digital companies,” he explained. “I think we are already starting to see that shift accelerate.”
Sports leagues may love the money that comes with the broadcasting rights, but ultimately they will also factor in the number of audience that can access the live games. This is not something that the digital platforms can offer at this point as against the broadcast TV medium.
While digital platforms are flexing their muscles at auctions, Les Moonves, the CBS chief executive officer, said the death of TV is very much exaggerated.
“People keep trying to bury broadcast,” he said. “It’s still the best game in town if you want a mass audience.”
Moonves said that digital platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Amazon can play a complementary role for now as live sports broadcasting is still TV’s domain.