Amazon won't stream Yankees games due to shortened 2020 MLB season

YES Network to keep fixtures for itself this year.

Amazon won’t stream Yankees games due to shortened 2020 MLB season

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  • Prime Video had been set to stream 21 Yankees games
  • Broadcasts would have been Amazon’s first as part-owner of YES
  • Company to ‘evaluate plans at the conclusion of this season’

Amazon will not be broadcasting any New York Yankees games this season due to the shortened 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) campaign.

The internet giant agreed a deal with YES Network in March to stream 21 of the franchise’s fixtures on its Prime Video streaming service this year. The move had been expected after a group including the Yankees, Amazon and Sinclair Broadcast Group agreed to buy the YES Network from Disney in a deal valuing the regional sports network (RSN) at US$3.47 billion.

It meant Amazon was set to stream a number of high-profile matches, including three against Yankees rivals the Boston Red Sox.

But the coronavirus pandemic shortened the season from the standard 162 games to only 60, scuppering those plans. The games scheduled to air on local channel WPIX and other TV broadcasters were going to be simulcast by Amazon. With fewer matchups this year, YES Network has now opted to keep those for itself.

Under new MLB rules that also limit teams from streaming games that air on RSNs, those YES matches are not available to Amazon.

‘Given the unique circumstances surrounding this season, YES Network will televise all New York Yankees games not airing on the national networks,’ Amazon said in a statement. ‘We’ll evaluate our plans at the conclusion of this season.’

Though Amazon’s broadcasts were not exclusive, it will be a blow for the company as it looks to expand its content offering on Prime Video. 

The over-the-top (OTT) platform has been growing its sports portfolio ever since first moving for rights to the National Football League's (NFL) Thursday night games in 2017. Amazon secured a multi-year extension to that broadcast partnership with the NFL earlier this year, as well as adding an exclusive Saturday regular season game to that contract.

In Europe, Prime Video has been more active. The streaming service has agreed a host of top-tier rights deals in soccer, notably with England’s Premier League, and tennis across a number of territories.

Amazon is also looking to add ‘24/7 live programming’, including more sports content, to Prime Video, according to job listings first reported by Protocol last month.

The multiple openings suggest a forthcoming move into round-the-clock coverage of news, music and sports, as well as movies and TV shows.

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