Amazon Dips Into U.K. Soccer Market With Manchester City Series

  • Series will launch exclusively on Prime Video in 2018
  • Deal comes ahead of auction for Premier League soccer rights

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Amazon.com Inc. is making its first splash into Britain’s hot soccer market in a deal with the current leader of the Premier League, Manchester City.

Amazon Prime Video will produce a behind-the-scenes series following the team and its prominent coach, Pep Guardiola, through the current season, the company said Thursday. The production will be available to members of its Prime digital-video service in 2018. Amazon is paying more than 10 million pounds ($13.1 million) for the exclusive access, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to identified as the terms are private.

“This new Amazon Prime Original series will give Prime members extraordinary insight into Manchester City, the top English Premier League Football team and one of the most exciting and respected teams globally,” Heather Schuster, head of unscripted at Amazon Originals, said in a statement.

The tie-up builds on Amazon’s early efforts to bring exclusive sports content to its platform, after winning global live-streaming rights for the Association of Tennis Professionals’ ATP World Tour and the National Football League’s coveted “Thursday Night Football.” It will also fuel speculation that Amazon will take on Sky Plc and BT Group Plc for rights to show Premier League matches in an auction next year.

Participation by web giants including Amazon and Netflix Inc. at the auction risks continuing the steep price inflation of recent years. Sky and BT together paid 5.14 billion pounds for the live U.K. rights in the latest three-year deal, an increase of 70 percent. U.K. broadcast executives are already struggling to justify spending on sports rights to investors, who are increasingly calling into question the business model.

Amazon’s series on Manchester City will include visits to its training facilities at the City Football Academy and feature interviews with the manager and executive meetings. It joins a growing library of sports entertainment shows on Prime, including “The Grand Tour,” two series of “All or Nothing,” which follows the Arizona Cardinals and The Los Angeles Rams over an NFL season.

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