Streaming to see sports media rights revenues hit US$85bn by 2024

The global value of sports rights is currently estimated to be around US$48.6bn. The Rethink TV report – The Sports Rights Forecast to 2024 – predicts an increase of 75% over the next 5 years due to audiences continuing to move towards direct to consumer content with OTT streaming platforms heading this trend.

The increasing reach and scope of these services are inevitably contributing to this rapid growth – football rights alone are expected to swell from US$12.8bn in 2018 to US$31.9bn in 2024, due to greater viewership of Europe’s top leagues in Asia Pacific, including China, and North America.

OTT video delivery has the potential to distribute sports content more widely  

Ben Lavender, DAZN’s Chief Product Officer, recently talked about the ‘secrets of OTT’ – stating that the best content innovation arising from these services is the ‘unlimited choice’ they provide without limits (regulations permitting) – which will one day fully ‘replace linear broadcasting altogether’.

The ‘unlimited’ capabilities of these OTT services are exemplified by the return of the NBA G League, formerly the “Development League”, to Twitch. Through Twitch – watching the games in the traditional sense is never enough – streamers will be able to co-stream whichever games they like and put their own unique spin on broadcasting, replacing conventional commentaries. This will provide more access to the league and the potential to bring in a new audience through their favourite streamers.

Smaller clubs and niche sports are also benefitting from the rise of OTT distribution. When the club Boavista were relegated from the third tier of Portuguese football, fans could no longer follow their team through conventional mediums. The idea for the OTT service ‘MyCujoo’ was born – aimed at focusing on football’s “long-tail”, MyCujoo is helping to fill in the void of millions of hours of football played each year that don’t get coverage from traditional broadcasters. A look at the weekly calendar shows games from every continent in the world – including beach football and futsal. The service is trying to increase their visibility and validation to audiences by building on the success of the Women’s World Cup – this season MyCujoo will stream over 3,000 women’s games in over 190 competitions around the world – illustrating the potential of these OTT services. Their social media campaign, #Shareyourgame, encourages the 50,000 women appearing on the platform, coaches and fans to share their own and team highlights which they hope will both accelerate the visibility of the women’s game and the service itself.

Sports OTT services are partnering with traditional pay-TV companies to gain vital consumer recognition

In Italy, DAZN – who have enjoyed a 950% year on year revenue growth since their launch in 2016 and have beat ESPN to become the highest earning sport app worldwide for the first half of 2019 – recently agreed a new commercial agreement to air Serie A games on their new Sky Italia channel. This agreement with Sky will allow an increasing number of fans in Italy to have access to DAZN’s selection of matches.

Liverpool’s recent partnership with Turner Sports will see exclusive content from the club’s in-house OTT service LFCTV distributed to the US via Turner’s streaming platform B/R Live. Through showing matches, highlights, analysis, and particularly the club’s UEFA Champions League campaign – which Turner Sports has rights to – the club will be able to increase their access to and connect with fans in the US. In return B/R Live strengthen their reputation of broadcasting Premier League content – highlighted by Spurs TV and Arsenal TV being the latest to sign with Turner Sports last month.

Accessibility for OTT services has rarely been a problem. However, these emerging services face challenges such as marketing, achieving customer validation and recognition. Increasing their distribution footprint by partnering with major pay-TV broadcasters helps validate and attract new audiences to these OTT services – helping to drive the rapid growth in value of sports rights we see today.  

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