One of the most lucrative global businesses in recent years has been live broadcasts of sports events attracting millions of viewers every day. Everyone wants to be in that race for money, time and new technologies. Football leagues are awash with unimaginable sums of money and the cost of broadcasting football rights in Europe keeps getting higher and higher, with the most profitable and sought-after European leagues being the English Premier League and the Italian Serie A.
TV rights for football competitions and matches seem to be made out of gold. What makes football the most expensive sport, at least in Europe? Who are the decision makers behind the scenes and who buys these rights? Are football TV rights raising the bar for other TV rights as well? Answers to these questions will be given by the top experts in the region: Nikola Francetić, Head of Content, Media and Broadcasting at Telekom Austria Group; Richard John Brešković, Director of Marketing at Hrvatski Telekom; Radisav Vulićević, General Manager of Arena Sport; Victor Blundell Senior Vice President for Eastern Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Turkey at IMG Media. The discussion will be moderated by Ivica Blažičko, Editor-in-chief of Croatian Football TV.
“Football has long ago ceased to be just a game, today it is the biggest business in all its aspects”, said Arena Sports Director Radisav Vuličević. “Such a price of football as a sport has left its mark on the value of TV rights as well. Their sale goes in two directions: towards commercial televisions and towards Pay TV platforms. The former live off ads, whereas the latter live off distribution. Every seller of rights lives for competitive markets and has high expectations of them, but the amount of money being sent as the final offer is still dictated by the calculator, regardless of whether certain football programs, on account of their attractiveness and image, carry the prefix UNIQUE. An increase in prices in official offers generally doesn't affect the prices of other sports rights or other (non-sports) content. All due respect to Hollywood, but top-quality football is the biggest blockbuster.”
Sport on Pay TV platforms
In 2016, the English club Manchester United became the club with the biggest revenue in the world – a record of $735 million. What is interesting is that when it comes to English clubs, the smallest proportion of their revenues comes from the sale of tickets and their fans' spending on match days and the revenue from the sales of sports equipment – the key role has the revenue from TV rights.
In the period from 2016 to 2019, apart from £5.5 billion from domestic TV rights, the Premier League has earned an additional £3 billion from TV rights on the international market. This is one of the reasons why the English Premier League is the third most powerful professional sports league in the world, right behind the MLB (£9.5 billion) and the NFL (£13 billion). “Almost all Pay TV platforms offer their users an abundance of diverse and valuable content. The most important and high-quality film, lifestyle, documentary, music and children’s content is available on all platforms. In addition, there are numerous channels that can at least partially replace almost any channel in these genres. Sports and live broadcasts of the most attractive sports competitions are practically the only content-related difference between platforms that can't be replaced with similar content. This is also the main advantage of Pay TV platforms compared to global OTT platforms. As long as platforms and televisions compete for the acquisition of rights for premium sports content, their value will not decrease”, said Nikola Francetić, Head of Content, Media and Broadcasting at Telekom Austria Group.
Victor Blundell, Senior Vice President at IMG Media, a global leader in sports, media and events, who has been leading for the last 15 years all media-related activities in Central & Eastern Europe, Turkey, Middle East & North Africa, is looking forward to NEM and the discussion on the price of football: “It will be an excellent location to meet other executives and discuss the ever-evolving media landscape”, said Blundell, who has acquired and sold the audiovisual rights for a host of football properties, including the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A, in Eastern Europe.