In a move that threatens to reshape sporting and broadcast landscapes, internet giant Amazon is to throw its hat in the ring and compete for the next round of rugby broadcast rights, reports the New Zealand Herald.
Sanzaar’s formal bidding process for rights to screen provincial, Super and test match rugby from 2021 is now slated to be under way by April next year, an earlier-than-usual start time to allow new overseas players – Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service being the most notable – to address not-insubstantial infrastructural issues.
A source familiar with the internal workings of NZ Rugby said Amazon’s interest had been obvious for at least a year: “I knew they were sniffing around, wanting to do a documentary, but clearly a bid for the broadcasting rights was in the background.”
Given the sensitivity of these developments to the prospects of both NZ Rugby and incumbent broadcaster Sky Network Television, commercial confidentiality was invoked across the board in response to Weekend Herald questions this week.
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Sky chief executive John Fellet described his relationship with the sporting organisation for which he held rights as “symbiotic”, but declined to address the battle brewing with Amazon over rugby.