Streaming launches stir Australian rights market, but deeper challenges limit rights-holder upside

  • Luke Bould discusses developments in the Australian market.
  • Competition for rights has increased due to new sports streaming platforms.
  • No rights fee boom yet, with some properties instead avoiding large decreases.
  • Upcoming sales of big domestic properties will test new players’ appetites.

An outbreak of ‘streaming wars’ in Australia has injected life into a sports media rights market that this time last year looked threatened by a sharp decline.

Rights competition has been spurred in the last six months by the launches of new platforms Paramount+ and Stan Sport. There has been surprise competition from formerly niche player Sports Flick and a long-awaited first deal for Amazon. Established players, including Foxtel and Optus Sports, have moved to protect their positions with new rights deals.

These developments have helped the market bounce back from a series of renegotiations last year. In the teeth of the pandemic, Australia’s biggest rights-holders accepted falling or flat fees in return for the security of long-term deals.

However, few are predicting a rights-fee boom. Australia’s broadcasters have been battered in recent years by the shift of audiences to digital platforms and the pandemic. The new competition has so far mostly helped rights-holders stave off big falls in rights values, rather than generate big increases.

Nevertheless, the action has been a welcome development for sports rights-holders during a bruising period.

Read the full article here.


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