The Changing Streaming Sports Landscape Is A Pre-Cursor For What Is To Come

The sports landscape fundamentally changed when tech major Amazon won the exclusive rights to package F in the landmark English Premier League (EPL) rights deal in June. The acquisition of key rights previously held by traditional TV networks represents the culmination of a succession of market shifts:

  • Declining traditional broadcast sports viewing
  • An ageing TV sports audience
  • Transition of sports consumption to online and mobile,
  • The emergence of SVOD sports services

In light of this downturn and a fall in the consumption of sports content on traditional linear TV, moves are being made into the subscription video on demand (SVOD) space, with Disney’s new direct-to-consumer flagship sports SVOD service ESPN+ leading the charge. This has led to an influx of digital rights deals, taking distribution away from the traditional broadcasters, as competition for the attention of sports consumers intensifies.

These current international rights deals for premium content, although disrupting the landscape, are merely the precursor to a major shift in sporting rights. ‘D-Day’ for sporting rights will occur in 2021/2022, when the NFL enters its next rights deal and the new EPL and UEFA Champions League (UCL) rights are decided.

‘D-Day’ in 2021/2022, will provide a unique opportunity for tech majors and streaming platforms to win top tier rights for premier sport at the expense of traditional networks as rightsholders acknowledge the medium through which consumers engage with content has fundamentally changed.

With Facebook acquiring the English Premier League rights in Asia to stream on the platform, more powerful entrants are joining the fray. Amazon’s NFL and EPL rights as well as Facebook’s entry into the playing field, illustrates the shift in strategy with social giants actively looking to capture major international sports rights away from the traditional networks.  

Do not count out the pay-TV operators just yet

2017 / 2018 has seen the emergence of sport centric streaming services, acquiring rights away from traditional broadcasters, with Disney’s new direct-to-consumer flagship sports SVOD service ESPN+ leading the charge. This has led to an influx of digital rights deals, as competition for the attention of sports consumers intensifies.

Traditional broadcasters will still have a large say in who owns the majority of the broadcast sports rights, and the extent to which SVOD services will have disrupted the market will only become apparent in 2021/2022 when the domestic rights for the premium sporting events come up for auction.

The FIFA 2018 World Cup for instance broke records for consumers streaming live matches, with BBC iPlayer witnessing a 73% increase for a single game compared with Euro 2016, providing more insight into which medium consumers will engage with live sports. While traditional broadcast sports viewing declines, viewing figures for streaming live sports online has hit new heights. Fortunately for the traditional broadcasters, they still own the rights for the next FIFA World Cup. The 2022 World Cup therefore, ultimately serves as a unique opportunity for broadcasters to refine their sports streaming offering, while they still control the audience and the broadcast rights.

The Sports Video Landscape: The Emerging Sports Video Consumer proposition in a Digital First Ecosystem immediately available to MIDiA Research subscription clients here along with a full excel for the data sets used throughout the construction of the report. If you are not yet a MIDiA client and would like to learn more then email

Tagged in: Ad Supported Streaming Service, Amazon, Asia, BBC IPlayer, Consumer Behaviour, Content Consumption, D-Day, Digital Content, Disney, Domestic Rights, EPL, Espn, Facebook, FIFA World Cup, Live Sports, Nfl, Pay Tv, Pay-tv Subscriptions, Rightsholders, Sport Centric Streaming Service, Sports, Sports Landscape, Sports Rights, Sports Viewing, Streaming Services, Subscribers, Subscription Video On Demand, Svod, Traditional Broadcasters, Tv Audience, UCL, UEFA Champions League

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