New mega deals for Major League Baseball and European soccer tournaments, including Britain’s Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga, will help push the market for premium sports rights up 14 percent this year to a new record $26 billion, according to a new report by industry analysts Deloitte. This compares to an average annual growth of 5 percent between 2009 and 2013.
The accounting company said the growth in sports rights revenue will outpace global pay TV revenues — expected to grow 4 percent this year — as broadcasters continue to pay more for top-end sports in order to lure audiences.
The surge in rights revenue is driven primarily by a handful of new deals, including Fox Sports and Turner Broadcasting’s $14 billion, 8-year media agreement for Major League Baseball, that doubles the annual payout for broadcast rights to America’s pastime. European soccer will also continue to grow in popularity, Deloitte predicts, with Europe’s top domestic soccer leagues and club competitions generating $9.8 billion in revenues in 2014, led by England’s Premier League with $2.9 billion.
“We see no signs that the premium sports rights value bubble is about to burst. Rights fees for live content to premium properties overall will continue to grow,” said Austin Houlihan, a senior consultant in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte. “Premium live sport delivers large audiences, typically characterized by an attractive demographic profile. It drives subscriptions and generates advertising for broadcasters, particularly in an increasingly altered media landscape.”
There is also increasing competition for top-tier sports rights, with new mobile and telco players entering the arena. U.K. telecom giant BT shook things up with its new $1.44 billion (£900 million) deal for exclusive U.K. rights to Euro soccer tournaments the Champions and Europa Leagues, more than doubling the existing £400m deal with broadcasters ITV and BSkyB. The 2012 auction for the local rights to Germany’s Bundesliga brought in a record $3.3 billion, with 21st Century Fox shelling out the bulk in a $2.5 billion, 4-year deal.
Deloitte said around three-quarters of the total value of premium broadcast rights fees will be generated by 10 competitions: the four major professional leagues in North America — the MLB, NFL, MBA and NHL; the top-tier domestic soccer leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain; and the pan-European Champions League.