When Does Big Tech Become Something Else?

What makes a media company?

Most recognize that BBC, NBC or Aljazeera are unabashed (or perhaps grandfathered in) media entities, while Facebook continues to reject the label and Amazon has yet to even face the “accusation.”

I say “perhaps grandfathered” because who would want to be a media company today, facing regulation, when you could be a tech company and face none?

All of which makes last week’s announcement by Amazon with Premier League so interesting, with potentially more far-reaching consequences than we might think:

 “Amazon, which is increasingly pushing beyond its e-commerce origins, won rights on Thursday to broadcast Premier League games in Britain for the first time.”

But it’s more than that:

“While digital companies have typically bought only the digital streaming rights to sporting events, Amazon’s deal includes the exclusive rights for the matches it shows.”

“Tech Giants,” it seems, are fighting and winning bids for the longest share of our attention and the largest share of our retention…the “new” broadcast television.

We are inundated with content…once called shows…some amazingly produced, incredibly well written, and brilliantly acted. And with their billions to burn we, the consumers, have access to a treasure trove of viewing possibilities available on demand never before imagined.

Increasingly sports, live sports in particular, are sought after as a source that keeps viewers tethered to the screen and function as a guaranteed return ticket for fans.

In Amazon’s case, Premier League is clearly an added incentive to its Prime offer and what could be better? More “free” (for now, anyway) to entice you to prepay for better service and services.

So, does that make Amazon a media company too? Or merely a Tech Giant pass through? Or is does it continue to remain simply a retailer offering just another product?

Frankly, I am still working this one out for myself, so I pose the question to us all.

One hint may be the large number of broadcast partners that already exist for Premier League, and the fact that they all get their feed from IMG.

The argument, as I have written before, might be that until they actually produce the events, frame the shots, call the plays and sweat all the details, digital streaming sources like Amazon are just deep pocketed wannabes who are taking advantage of their ability to spend and share in largesse.

Whatever your position, the crowded viewing environment is obfuscating purpose and accountability. At some point, as Facebook will discover that the fiddler gets paid and choices must be made.

I add only that Amazon also owns a newspaper

Let me include one other perspective from someone who doesn’t seem to worry…Listen:

“We think of Starbucks not as a coffee company but a media company.”- Howard Schultz

At least he didn’t pretend to be a Tech Giant. But what of the implications for others?

Maybe Facebook is really a water cooler?

What do you think?

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