Sport Broadcast

Back to the Future for TV Sport

Professional sport trades off its audience.

Broadcast revenues ensure the relative stability of all sports while brand exposure on television remains the number one driver of sponsorship value.

But what happens if audiences become less easy to reach or quantify?

To avoid finding that out, sport is forcing itself to explore new ways of delivering content to match rapidly evolving media consumption habits.

Last season the Premier League and the NFL, two of the most valuable broadcast entities in the world, reportedly experienced dramatic reductions in viewership.

Was this due to falling interest in their respective products or simply a result of changing viewing habits that has become very noticeable particularly amongst younger viewers? When reporting the slump in NFL ratings in October, The Altantic noted that since 2010, the amount of television watched by 12-34 years olds had dropped by between 30 and 40%.

The diagnosis is that this fall is down to cord-cutting, the foregoing of pay television subscriptions in favour of internet-based services.

But other developments mean this does not immediately appear to be affecting the value of sports rights.

New players including Twitter, Facebook and Amazon are making ever more substantive sorties into the market and the deal to screen Thursday night NFL games that cost Twitter $10m in 2016 is costing Amazon $50m for 2017.

For the Premier League’s, there seems no immediate likelihood that its success in signing lucrative overseas deals will diminish.

While revenues may hold up in the medium term, the narrower, more targeted reach of new providers may not be so attractive to sponsors seeking a broader audience.

This complements the desire amongst many rights-holders to reach a broader audience to inspire participation.

Free-to-air components on new broadcast agreements such as the ECB’s with the BBC suggest the need to reach and grow new audiences as well as attracting sponsors remains as strong a priority for rights holders as increasing revenues.

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