Football fans could be turning on to Amazon or Facebook streams of English Premier League matches soon.
A bidding war is hotting up for the rights to the biggest and one of the most exciting soccer leagues in the world.
Huge multibillion pound bids are expected from the online giants.
Bother have ventured into streaming live sports and both have huge amounts of cash to fund a bid that trigger a financial bonanza for England’s top clubs.
Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward revealed the social media goliaths were ready to make bids in the last round of rights deals for 2016-19, but were pipped by Sky and BT, who forked out £8.4 billion.
Billion dollar bids
That sort of cash is small change to Amazon and Facebook, with Amazon Jeff Bezos listed as the world’s richest person with a personal fortune approaching £200 billion.
Woodward said: “I think they will enter the mix. Anecdotally, there was incredibly strong interest in the last cycle. We are hearing that around the Premier League table and we are also hearing that from a European perspective in terms of interest in the Champions League and Europa rights.
“I do think we are going to see an increasing engagement from these and we would welcome the interest.”
However, both have dipped a toe in the sport streaming market – Amazon with American Football and tennis and Facebook with baseball and some Champions League football. Facebook also offered $600 million for the rights to stream cricket in India, but lost to a $2.5 billion bid from Fox-owned Star India.
Facebook v Amazon
“The Premier League is a very important partner of ours,” said Facebook’s global head of sports Dan Reed. “We with them to help them reach their audience. It would be premature to speculate on how we might approach that.”
He declined to commit if an offer would be submitted for Premier League rights.
Amazon executives declined to comment as well at a publicity event for a NFL Thursday Night Football package.
Facebook streamed 3,500 sports events in the first six months of 2017. The company is also advertising for an executive to supervise live sports partnerships in Europe, the Middle east and Africa.