Digital Drives Gains in Asian Sports Rights Market


A new report from Media Partners Asia (MPA) projects that the value of sports media rights in the Asia Pacific excluding China will hit $5 billion this year, a 22-percent increase on last year, boosted in large part by OTT players entering the market.

Online platforms are currently contributing between 10 and 25 percent of the media rights value for a sports franchise, MPA observes. The market is also being driven by India and Australia and this year’s World Cup, according to MPA’s Asia Pacific Sports In The Age Of Streaming report.

“In our view, the value of sports media rights across TV has probably peaked in Asia Pacific with the notable exception of India, where the market for linear channels remains robust and scalable,” said Srivathsan AR, senior analyst at MPA and the report’s main author. “The proliferation of broadband is fueling the growth of online video platforms, with a number of players investing aggressively in sports rights.”

The players involved in the AsiaPac sports market can be grouped into two segments, MPA reports. The first is broadcasters with scalable distribution investing in digital rights, such as Star India, which has made a big bet on Indian cricket with Hotstar, and beIN Media Group, which operates the beIN Connect OTT service in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The second group consists of telcos and pure-play digital operators monetizing rights through subscription, advertising and commerce. Notable examples include the sports streamer Dazn and Facebook, which is eyeing EPL rights in Thailand and Vietnam.

“We expect bidding for live rights to escalate across the region over the next two years as sports-based digital platforms drive viewership, especially in large ad-dominated growth economies such as India and Indonesia as well as big mature markets such as Australia and Japan,” Srivathsan said.

The landscape also includes sports franchises experimenting with direct-to-consumer options, such as services from Australia’s National Rugby League and Cricket Australia and an ad-supported platform set up by MMA entity One Championship.

“Many franchises share free highlights and archive content, although others are looking at more direct monetization, pioneered by the NBA League Pass,” Srivathsan said. “These services offer one-to-one and customized fan relationships that can drive engagement and merchandise sales. At the same time, small markets which are currently grouped alongside major markets in media deals may see better representation and consistency in delivery. NBA has also shown that a readymade service can help distribution partners augment their own packages rather than disrupt existing deals, although some leagues and federations may bypass traditional TV partners with their own direct-to-consumer plays.”