Sky Sports and BT Sports, two British sport broadcasters, announced a deal to present English Premier League matches from 2019 to 2022 for the measly sum of 4.464 billion British Pounds. Measly why? Because they paid £5.13bn for the 2015-2018 four-year period.
While some have speculated that this spells the beginning of the decline in the growth of professional sport team revenues that have made teams and players very rich, David Conn of The Guardian astutely adds that the bubble has not burst. The interesting tidbit behind this mega-deal is that a couple of experimental rights packages remain to be sold. These deals will make it possible for the buyers to stream ten simultaneous games online, four times in the season.
If the calls claiming the cord cutting phenomenon is finally hitting sports broadcasting are perhaps a little premature, it is obvious that the EPL is taking steps to test a new business model that, in the end, might hit cable access providers where it hurts most. Because if indeed the two experiments prove to attract viewers and generate revenue, what is holding the EPL back from producing and streaming its own content online?
In an era where IP detention and exploitation is key, as noted in FG8’s recent white paper on Netflix, could the future of sports broadcasting be a centralized streaming service detained and controlled by the leagues in order to directly exploit their product on a worldwide market?
Probably not. Production costs alone would be staggering and developing the organizational skills to pull off such a stunt a challenge in its own right. However, if successful these tests could pave the way for a shift in revenue from traditional sports broadcasting rights to online streaming rights; a progression that could ostensibly kill off one of the last factors keeping people from effectively cutting the cord in massive numbers.