- Amazon Prime signed a multiyear deal with the Professional Pickleball Association to provide streaming coverage of four tournaments per year.
- The coverage will kick off Thursday with a four-day tournament.
- The PPA Tour's 20-plus tournaments in 2023 can be seen across a variety of platforms.
Amazon Prime members can now add pickleball coverage to their list of membership benefits.
Amazon's Prime Video streaming platform announced Tuesday it's signed a multiyear deal with the Professional Pickleball Association for global streaming rights to four live PPA Tour events per year, including the 2023-2024 PPA Tour World Championship Series.
"When something has an explosion in growth, naturally it catches our eye," Charlie Neiman, head of sports partnerships at Amazon Prime Video, told CNBC.
Amazon said its coverage will include games with top-ranked players such as Ben Johns, Anna Leigh Walters and Anna Bright.
Connor Pardoe, CEO and cofounder of the Pro Pickleball Association, called the deal "monumental" for the burgeoning league.
"It's important for the evolution of the pro game, the game as a whole, and a nice step forward for the professional players," he added.
Prime's deal with the PPA also deepens its commitment to the world of sports streaming rights, which range from Thursday Night Football to emerging sports leagues and sports documentaries.
Neiman says Amazon has had tremendous success investing in other emerging properties such as MMA's One Championship or Overtime Elite Basketball. He thinks pickleball has significant growth potential as well, he said.
"We're always looking at content and making sure our offerings on Prime Video reflect our customers' interests," he said.
For pickleball enthusiasts, seeing their sport on the small screen, along with the ability to stream games, is welcome news. But patchwork and evolving media strategy has also made it confusing where to watch.
The PPA Tour's 20-plus tournaments in 2023 can be seen across a variety of platforms that also includes ABC, Fox, CBS, YouTube, the Tennis Channel and FanDuel. Earlier this month, the PPA Tour announced that ESPN will cover eight of the league's tournaments.
"Where pickleball is today, it's a sport that's really hot," said Pardoe. "It's really exciting and nobody wants to miss out on it. But also, no one's really ready to commit to the whole thing as well."
Pardoe said it will take time to get a more concise and consistent media deal, but today the league is focused on getting its brand "anywhere and everywhere."
Pickleball continues to see rapid growth, with an estimated 36 million people picking up a paddle between August 2021 and August 2022, according to a report by the Association of Pickleball Professionals. The sport grew more than 158% over the past three years, according to the 2023 Sports Fitness Industry Association Topline Participation Report.