By Srivathsan AR
The first UK deals for the next three seasons (2019-22) of the Premier League, the country’s most lucrative sports property, has ended speculation that digital-only players will disrupt the market with a big bid. Pay-TV incumbents Sky and BT have retained the top five of the seven packages the Premier League is selling in the UK, albeit at a lower outlay of US$6.2 bil. compared with US$7.1 bil. for the previous cycle. While it represents a lower per-match fee for Sky, BT has committed to an increase that matches Sky’s figure.
Assuming the remaining two packages are sold at half this rate, the Premier League’s haul for domestic rights will be US$100 mil. down from the previous cycle, despite a 20% increase in live matches. A content-sharing deal between Sky and BT in Dec. 2017 may have pre-empted fierce bidding between the two, while digital-only global players such as Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, all becoming more involved in live sports worldwide, haven’t featured in the winning bids so far.
PLENTY OF UPSIDE OVERSEAS
In 2016, the year Leicester City stunned pundits and rivals alike by becoming champions, the Premier League raked in ~60% growth on its media rights globally. There’s unlikely to be a similar fairy tale to boost the tournament’s appeal for the next cycle but Premier League executives will be happy that overseas growth will more than offset a saturated market at home. Deals struck for China and sub-Saharan markets in Africa already promise US$800 mil. in upside for the next cycle.
MPA projects a considerable 11% growth in the next cycle for the global value of the Premier League’s media rights, on course to reach ~US$13 bil. as the value of deals outside the UK leaps up 33%. This suggests that international markets will contribute ~47% of media revenue for the Premier League, closing a gap that had widened in the previous cycle due to strong domestic growth.
Much of this fortune comes down to the league’s long-term thinking, shifting game timings to suit Middle East and Asian markets while introducing initiatives tailored for overseas fans such as summer tours as well as special events attended by Premier League stars where live matches are shown on a big screen. Some markets are bound to see a correction in rights fees but there is still room to grow overall, cementing the Premier League’s status as one of the most valuable sports properties in the world.
For full analysis with charts and tables, please contact Lavina Bhojwani, VP, Client Services, Media Partners Asia