Sports TV Rights To Trump Gate

Media rights will outstrip ticket sales as the leading driver of income for professional sports in 2018, according to a study released by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, as eyeballs on devices overtake butts in seats.

Photo: AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin
Katy Perry performs under the open roof of University of Phoenix Stadium during halftime of NFL Super Bowl XLIX Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. 

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, PwC projects leagues and sports federations will collect some $10.9 billion from media rights fees compared with $10.7 billion from gate revenues.

Media rights fees rang up $16.4 billion in 2015 and are expected to grow “at a compound annual rate of 7.2% during the next five years,” according to the report, quoted by the Journal. The market for media rights has spiked in recent years as companies compete for live programming that drives consumers to buy pay-TV subscriptions or other packages.

For instance, the entire Major League Baseball playoffs series in recent years has been available only on cable or satellite systems on channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, and TBS when it once was a given the games would be available on terrestrial, free TV.

Whether the media rights model remains sustainable, however, will much depend on the rise of young “cord-cutters,” younger consumers who are more willing to live without programming they can’t stream on other services, according to the Journal.