Sports Rights Fees Keep Rising, Even As Streamers Slow TV/Video Content Spend

Look out, sports TV-focused networks and streaming platforms -- sports rights are still valuable. And you know what that means: open your wallets.

Sports TV rights revenue is expected to continue to soar, says Rethink TV -- rising near 9% on a compounded annual basis in five years.

It says the top 15 global sports leagues will reach $67 billion in 2028 -- up 8.87% on a compound annual rate basis -- rising from $43.8 billion in 2023.

The sharpest increase will come from a new contract negotiation for the National Basketball Association (NBA), which Rethink projects will grow 26.30%, reaching $13.5 billion in 2028.

On the weak side, Major League Baseball (MLB) will see the slowest growth -- just a 1.98% hike over the next five years.



Now analysts say all this is happening as sports rights holders increasingly understand their value in terms of repackaging sports leagues in smaller packages in order to meet the demand of a growing pool of hungry rights holders.

As evidence of this, the top-drawer NFL -- which is just beginning its new contract for linear TV and streaming platforms among five big media companies -- has made a separate and lucrative deal to sell its “NFL Sunday Ticket” package of out of market games to YouTube TV for a estimated $2 billion per year in a seven-year deal.

For example, the NBA could also look to spin off its NBA League Pass, a direct-to-consumer (D2C) subscription-based service -- live and on-demand -- for the entire NBA season.

Deals such as this potential one -- with potential exclusive distribution -- will spread the awareness of platforms/network/streaming distributors looking for that highly valuable content to attract customers.

HBO Max -- which heretofore has not offered live sports -- is also considering getting into the game. Its sister linear TV networks -- TNT, TBS, truTV, for example -- currently air NCAA's March Madness, a men's basketball tournament. TNT also airs NBA games.

Even Netflix has been mulling the idea for sports. But it has yet to make a dramatic move. Instead, it continues to lean on video gaming content -- releasing 40 games this year, with 70 in development.

This effort --  as well as the industry overall -- continues to focus largely on younger viewers, next-generation streamers for premium TV shows and movies. At least that is the hope.

High-value sports franchises know the score. And although streaming platforms look to slow down overall entertainment content/production spending, they must continue to play the game.

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