Sports Industry Study: Media Rights to Overtake Gate Revenue In 2018

Sports rights in North America have exploded lately, with the NFL leading the way.

Thanks in large part to the popularity of the NFL on television, in 2018 media rights will for the first time supplant gate revenue as the most lucrative subsector of the North American sports industry, according to a study released Monday.

In 2014, gate revenue accounted for $17.71 billion in revenue in North America while media rights was at $14.6 billion, good enough for third place among the four subsectors, behind sponsorship and ahead of merchandising, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Media rights, though, is growing faster than all other subsectors so will be the biggest driver of revenue by 2018 when it brings in $19.95 billion, PwC said Monday. By then, gate revenue will be $19.72 billion, sponsorship will be $17.64 billion and merchandise will be $14.25 billion.

Sports rights in North America have exploded lately, with the NFL leading the way. Between 2014-2022, the broadcast networks will pay an estimated $40 billion for the rights to broadcast professional football games.

Also contributing to growth is the fact that 35 percent of the deals for local TV rights to MLB, NBA and NHL games expire in the next five years so will presumably be renewed at inflated prices, said PwC.

The entire sports market is expected to grow about 4 percent annually to $73.52 billion in 2019, according to PwC.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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