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Sports rights holders should ‘adopt a hybrid media model’ in the wake of coronavirus

New report projects revenue generated by sports media rights in 2020 will fall by a third compared to 2019

A new study says sports rights holders should end their reliance on pay-TV and adopt a hybrid media model in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the report by sports marketing agency Two Circles, the pandemic will cause several paradigm shifts in the sports landscape – specifically in how the world engages with sport, the types of products and experiences sports fans demand, and the organisations who invest in sports rights.

The report projects revenue generated by sports media rights in 2020 will fall from $48.2 billion in 2019 to $32.1 billion by the end of 2020 – a 33.5 per cent decrease on 2019. This drop is primarily due to rebates for cancelled events, not a lack of appetite for content.

“Covid-19 will accelerate shifts in consumer behaviour that will have a significantly negative impact on the pay-TV industry, on which the sports industry is commercially reliant at present.” states the report. “As a result, selling all or significant amounts of rights to pay-TV to achieve media growth will no longer be viable. Rights-owners therefore have to change how they package and distribute content to hedge risk and more actively become masters of their own destinies.”

Two Circles predicts consequences of accelerated linear pay-TV subscription decline will be significant for the sports industry, “we believe it will see the amount spent on sports media rights, by pay-TV broadcasters, decrease after consistent growth for the last half a century,” says the report.

Instead, the report states rights holders should opt for a hybrid model where value will be found by “selling, activating and evaluating media rights by knocking down the walls that have existed since 1975.”

Among the hybrid options the report suggests are: a D2C proposition, syndicating content to grow international audiences and appreciating the value in non-live sport.

The full report can be found here.