Sports media rights in APAC to spike 22% in market value due to digital demand

The market value of sports media rights is predicted to reach US$5.0 billion Asia Pacific this year, excluding China, representing a 22% increase from last year. This can be attributed to the increase in demand for digital rights and market growth in Australia and India, as well as the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, according to a new report titled Asia Pacific Sports In The Age of Streaming by Media Partners Asia (MPA).

Sports remains the last stronghold for pay-TV operators looking to prevent consumers from discontinuing subscriptions, MPA said. However, over-the-top (OTT) delivery is becoming the main driver of rights inflation, opening up new opportunities for rights-holders while adding new layers of complexity to negotiations and deals.

Currently, online platforms contribute between 10% to 25% of the media rights value for a sports franchise. The report noted that debates over the value of digital monetisation in comparison with TV will only become "more involved and complex" over time.

The Asia Pacific market for digital sports is divided between broadcasters with scalable distribution, such as BeIn Media Group and Star India, that are investing in digital rights for new and emerging platforms, and telcos and pure-play digital platforms that are monetising tent-pole rights through subscription, advertising and commerce.

Meanwhile, digital platforms are also becoming increasingly active in the sports industry, with companies such as Facebook acquiring exclusive English Premier League (EPL) football rights in Thailand and Vietnam. Australian telco Optus also invested close to US$300 million for two seasons of EPL football to drive customer acquisition and market share across its broadband services.

Sports franchises are also experimenting with direct-to-consumer services, pioneered by National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US, with its own OTT offering of the NBA League Pass. Since then, Formula One unveiled its live Grand Prix OTT subscription service named F1 TV, while sports media company ONE Championship launched a mobile app featuring its live events, digital content and statistical information on the fighters.

According to MPA's senior analyst Srivathsan AR, the proliferation of broadband is fueling the growth of online video platforms, with a number of players investing "aggressively" in sports rights. Over the next two years, MPA expects bidding for live rights to "escalate" across the region as sports-based digital platforms split viewership, especially in large ad-dominated growth economics such as Indonesia and India, as well as mature markets such as Japan and Australia.

While many sports franchises share free highlights and archive content, others are also looking at a more direct monetisation which was pioneered by the NBA League Pass, Srivathsan said.

“These services offer one-to-one and customized fan relationships that can drive engagement and merchandise sales. At the same time, small markets which are currently grouped alongside major markets in media deals may see better representation and consistency in delivery," he added.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)