Broadcast revenues are critical in the funding of the development of sports at all levels, according to a new Deloitte report commissioned by BSkyB.
The impact of broadcasting on sports in the UK says that any restriction on sports organisations to generate broadcast revenues pay place pressure on other funding sources. It says the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) spends 71% of its budget on community programmes and the elite game, while the Rugby Football Union (RFU) spend around half of its outgoings on payments to clubs and elite and grass roots rugby.
The timing of the report coincides with the work of the DCMS review of free-to-air events, scheduled to report in the second half of 2009. The ECB famously asked for cricket to be placed in Group B of the listed events, enabling the Board to earn greater revenues, but taking all live cricket from free-to-air television. However, while viewers must now pay a Sky Sports subscription to enjoy the current Ashes series between England and Australia, the ECB has doubled the amount spent on grass routes activity between 2000 and 2008. Cricket has also packaged less attractive fixtures with the international matches to gain additional exposure for less popular county and Under 19 games. Such clauses also form a part of many contracts with the Hollywood studios.
Multichannel television contributes 95% of sports broadcast hours in the UK. The report points out that cricket and golf have benefitted extensively from the digital sector – arguably both sports are good at filling airtime – but that other sports bodies such as Six Nations Rugby committee have chosen a free-to-air partner to maximise coverage. In turn driving sponsorship revenues.