ASIA PACIFIC: The market value of sports media rights in Asia Pacific, excluding China, is on course to reach US$5bn this year, representing growth of 22% since last year.

That is according to consultancy firm Media Partners Asia (MPA), which attributed the increase to rising demand for digital rights and market growth in India and Australia as well as the FIFA World Cup that is underway in Russia.

MPA said that sports remains “the last bastion” for pay-TV operators trying to prevent viewers from cutting their subscriptions, but that the value of sports media rights for TV appears to be plateauing in most markets across the region.

“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 AR Srivathsan, senior analyst at MPA.

Meanwhile, the MPA study found that over-the-top (OTT) delivery is becoming the main driver of rights inflation with the trend “opening up fresh opportunities” for rights-holders while also adding new layers of complexity to negotiations and deals.

It also revealed that online platforms currently contribute between 10% to 25% of the media rights value for a sports franchise, although the report noted that debate over the value of digital monetisation compared with TV will only get more complex over time.

Looking in more detail at the market for digital sports, MPA said there are two main types of players – broadcasters with scalable distribution, such as Star India, that are investing in digital rights for new and emerging platforms; and telcos and pure-play digital platforms which monetise rights through subscription, advertising and commerce.

Facebook, for example, is in the running to acquire exclusive rights to the English Premier League (EPL) in Thailand and Vietnam, while Australian telco Optus has spent close to US$300m for two seasons of EPL football in Australia.

“We expect bidding for live rights to escalate across the region over the next two years as sports-based digital platforms rive 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 observed.

Sourced from MPA; additional content by WARC staff