AMAZON have bought the broadcast rights for 13 of the 16 matches to be played in this Autumn’s Nations Cup, with 12 of those games to be shown exclusively in the UK on their Prime Video service. The England versus Ireland at Twickenham match on 21st November will be shown in tandem with Channel 4, while Ireland’s three home matches will be exclusively on Channel 4.
That means Scotland’s three pool matches against Italy, France and Fiji will all be shown on the subscription channel.
“We are excited and privileged to work with Six Nations Rugby and the eight participating unions in to bring this new tournament to viewers across the UK on Prime Video,” said Alex Green, Managing Director of Prime Video Sport Europe. “It is a unique event bringing a new level of competitiveness to Autumn international rugby and will offer something back to all the fans who have missed top-level rugby. We will be offering mouth-watering clashes featuring the top international teams in the Northern Hemisphere exclusively to UK Prime members at no additional charge to their membership.”
The Nations Cup is a one-off tournament which has been set-up to kick-start the international game and generate some much needed revenue after nearly six months of rugby inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic. With no or limited crowds likely to be allowed at the matches, the need for broadcast revenue is greater than ever, and Amazon have some of the deepest pockets around.
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson stated last month that his organisation is facing an £18million shortfall in revenue as a consequence of the pandemic, and his general tone during the pandemic has been more optimistic than some of his counterparts elsewhere in the game.
Concerns will be expressed about the long-term visibility of the sport being compromised by a current hunger to maximise revenue. Amazon have stressed that there will be no extra cost to current Prime members, but it is a subscription service. A current Amazon Prime subscription in the UK costs £79 per year or £7.99 per month.
“We are delighted to welcome Amazon Prime Video on board as a broadcast partner for the Autumn Nations Cup, and to have such a major global player demonstrate their commitment to rugby is a tremendous endorsement for our game,” said Ben Morel, CEO Six Nations Rugby. “Amazon Prime Video has already established a reputation for delivering high level production in live sport which we have seen through their coverage of the Premier League, ATP and WTA Tennis, and NFL. We are hugely excited by their initial plans for the Autumn Nations Cup and are confident rugby lovers will thoroughly enjoy the coverage.”