A new Ampere Analysis report has found only one in three sports fans have access to premium sports channels.
In contrast free-to-air channels reach over 800 million Europeans.
The report was commissioned by the EBU, which has come under pressure from the large pockets of the pay-TV companies. Historically its model was to purchase major competitions as a block to enable coverage by public broadcasters large and small. It lost rights to the Olympics after 2015’s $1.2 billion bid by Discovery.
According to the report, the value of a sport’s sponsorship rights is linked to its reach. A minute of airtime exposure across free-to-air European TV is worth €220,000 equivalent commercial value for sponsors. But, when a sport moves from a free to a premium TV channel, its reach drops by an average of 68% amongst sport fans.
Director of Eurovision Sport Glen Killane said: “Sport federations need to consider the balance between their rights revenue and the increased reach – and accompanying sponsor value – they gain from working with free-to-air channels.
“It’s particularly noticeable that demographic shifts mean younger audiences are especially hard to reach via traditional forms of paid TV distribution. Our Members’ VOD platforms, and our own work in providing digital exploitation solutions, offers new opportunities for sport federations to exploit all their rights beyond the confines of linear schedules.”
Formula E is just one sport that has seen substantial growth thanks to a combination of free-to-air exposure, digital strategies, and brand partnerships. Broadcast in Europe primarily by public service media organizations such as the BBC, Rai and RTVE, it has grown its global audience to around 411 million (2019) and its revenue has increased from $21 million in 2015 to $162 million, driven primarily by sponsorship and partnerships rather than broadcasting rights.
Ampere Analysis Research Director Richard Broughton said: “While every sport is at a different stage of development, and has different trade-offs to consider, it is nonetheless clear that sports federations face increasingly tough decisions around how their events should be televised.”
The report methodology included extensive quantitative consumer research, based on 21,000 interviews with European internet users across 12 markets, plus rights deal and revenue information compiled by the Ampere team, covering over 1,000 rights deals in Europe.