But this time it’s Silicon Valley platforms Facebook, Amazon Prime Video, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat, along with a new breed of ambitious digital publishers like Goal.com, Dugout and Copa90, that are challenging traditional television broadcasters for sports rights.
Yesterday it was revealed that Amazon had paid about £10m to lure the UK rights to the ATP World Tour from Sky, meaning practically all elite men’s tennis other than the four grand slam tournaments will now only be available live on Prime Video.
The deal represents Amazon’s second major raid for sports rights in four months after paying in the region of $50m to stream the NFL’s 10 Thursday night games this coming season, a contract it is taking over – sign of the times – from Twitter.
They will share live coverage of the tournament with the BBC, which unexpectedly reversed its own drain of sport to Sky by clawing the UK TV rights from its satellite rival last month.
Even Copa90, which launched five years ago as a YouTube football channel with no rights and has enjoyed 80m views a month across its digital properties by finding inventive ways to cover the sport without being able to show it, is about to start broadcasting games.
Copa90 will dip its toes into live action by showing friendly fixtures and leftfield European league matches, but the most sought-after sports rights in the UK are for the Premier League, which owes its status as the richest league in the world to exorbitant broadcast deals.