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Forecast: APAC sports rights costs to grow 5.6% in 2022

May 9, 2022

The market for sports rights and sports media revenues across Asia Pacific recovered in 2021 after the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and is expected to grow at a sustainable rate over 2021-26, according to a report from Media Partners Asia (MPA).

The main driver will be consumer and advertiser demand for live sports across integrated streaming entertainment & sports platforms along with TV networks in key geographies. The report tracks the growth trajectory of sports rights and TV & online video sports revenues across 14 markets in Asia Pacific.

The market for sports across Asia Pacific crashed during 2020 with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to MPA, sports rights for the Asia Pacific contracted by ~$1.2 billion (€1.14bn) in 2020 while sports media revenues fell by ~$0.9 billion in the same year. Rights values crashed in China in 2020 while revenue contraction was marked in Australia and Japan. 2021 saw significant recovery in rights values and revenue, which MPA expects to continue in 2022, ensuring that rights values return to pre-pandemic levels, surpassing the absolute value of rights registered in 2018.

In 2021, sports media revenue growth was especially significant in Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia, led by Indonesia and Thailand.

Commenting on the findings of the report, MPA executive director Vivek Couto said: “Sports remains vital in Asia Pacific as a tactical weapon to build brand and market share and in certain instances, pricing power. However premium tier-1 rights generally remain loss leaders or breakeven bets, especially in the case of marquee football and cricket properties.

“TV platforms remain important for the value of sports rights and monetisation but the growth of online videoas well as tighter consumer & advertising wallets have squeezed growth in key Asia Pacific markets with many players impacted by cord cutting as customers continue to churn to: (1) Integrated entertainment and sports streaming platforms; (2) Pure play sports streaming platforms; and (3) Piracy. TV reach and revenues will however grow at a robust rate in large scale markets such as India, which emerged as the second-largest TV sports market through the pandemic, after Japan,” added Couto. “Meanwhile, the rapid growth of online video distribution has boosted sports rights and revenues through SVoD and freemium windows, especially in markets such as Australia, India, Indonesia and Korea. The economics of pure play sports streaming remains challenging; integrated entertainment and sports platforms remain on a stronger path while TV and streaming bundles will continue to play an important part in unlocking the value of sports.”

MPA projections indicate that Asia Pacific sports revenues in TV and online video will grow at a combined 5.9 per cent CAGR between 2021-26, climbing from $6.7 billion in 2021 to $8.9 billion by 2026.

Four markets – Australia, China, India and Japan – will contribute more than 82 per cent to revenues in 2022, growing to 83 per cent by 2026.

In 2022, online video’s share of APAC sports revenues will grow to 33 per cent in 2022 versus 28 per cent in 2021, and is expected to reach 42 per cent by 2026. Major market drivers of online video sports market share growth include Australia & New Zealand; China; India; Indonesia; Singapore; and Taiwan.

TV will remain critical in India, Japan, Korea and Malaysia. In the pan-regional sports broadcasting market, SpoTV, the Korean sports broadcaster owned by Eclat, has launched after the demise of the Fox Sports with a number of key properties across Greater Southeast Asia. Because of the break-up of Fox’s sports rights and the growth of local platforms (with Premier League rights in some instances), the pan regional sports media market has contracted, hitting a low in 2021 but growth has resumed in 2022, driven by beIN (which has retained some key properties post pandemic) and SpoTV.

Sports rights costs across Asia Pacific markets will grow 5.6 per cent in 2022 to reach $6.5 billion and at a CAGR of 4  per cent between 2021-26 to reach $7.4 billion by 2026. Four key markets dominate – Australia, China, India and Japan – and will contribute 77 per cent to Asia Pacific sports rights investment in 2022, rising to 79 per cent by 2026.

Over the 2021-26 period, sports rights investment in India will grow at 10.1 per cent CAGR, bolstered by demand for cricket properties, led by the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Football leads the sports rights market in APAC with the Premier League topping the list of individual properties. Rights for the 2022-2025 Premier League have fallen by ~25 per cent to ~$1.4 billion because of a substantial deterioration in China. Excluding China, Premier Rights values for Asia Pacific grew by 10 per cent to $1.2 billion, driven by healthy increases in Australia & New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Thailand.

In certain instances, 6-year right options were taken up, led by Optus Sport in Australia and StarHub in Singapore. Streaming was a key driver of inflation in markets such as Australia, Indonesia and Korea in particular.

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