Will sports rights holders "on-demand" even more from broadcasters and how may contracts evolve?Alex Henderson, Alex Haffner
- Sky launching their NOW TV service allowing consumers to just pay for the content they wish to watch e.g. an Ashes Test Match or the Ryder Cup;2
- BT offering their three sports channels for free provided subscribers also take one of their broadband packages;3 and
- Virgin Media offering a 10-month "season ticket" to its top tier subscribers to coincide with the Premier League season.4
- including detailed schedules setting out revenue share arrangements and/or lock-step mechanisms where payments become due as certain targets and thresholds are met by the channel provider. Such schedules would likely lead to traditional media rights agreements becoming more lengthy and complex. However, if value can be maximised, the rights holders would no doubt see this as necessary evil; and/or
- continuing the trend of segregating rights by tightening existing rights categories and creating further packages that can be sold for a price. For example, it is common for "live rights" to be granted on a platform neutral basis allowing a channel provider to exploit such rights across all forms of media. If these rights are split out into separate packages (e.g. linear; transaction video on demand etc.), rights holders can apportion a value to each of these methods of broadcast. The challenge will lie in defining each package with sufficient certainty whilst maintaining enough flexibility to take in to account changing technologies. However, such an approach would allow rights holders and channel providers to follow the traditional model of media rights grants whilst, for the rights holders' perspective, ensuring that the aggregate sum of the parts is greater than the whole, either through a sale to one licensee or many.
1. Ewan Taylor-Gibson, Virgin Media launches Sky Sports season ticket offering 40% savings’, usswitch.com, 14 July 2014, viewed on 4 August 2014, https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/news/2014/07/virgin_media_launches_sky_sports_season_ticket_offering_40_savings/
2. Press release ‘Pay-as-you-go Sky Sports comes to NOW TV’, Sky.com, 19 March 2013, viewed 4 August 2014, https://corporate.sky.com/media/press_releases/2013/pay_as_you_go_sky_sports_comes_to_now_tv
3. BT Press Release, ‘BT Sport to remain free with BT Broadband for a second season’ btplc.com, 30 April 2014, viewed on 4 August 2014, https://www.btplc.com/news/Articles/ShowArticle.cfm?ArticleID=D2B15831-101F-4ECC-8DB4-B727242280BE
4. News Release, ‘Virgin Media unveils game changer with unprecedented savings on Sky Sports’, virginmedia.com, 13 July 2014, viewed on 4 August 2014, https://about.virginmedia.com/press-release/9439/virgin-media-unveils-game-changer-with-unprecedented-savings-on-sky-sports
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- Tags: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil | Broadcasting | Contract Law | Football | Premier League | World Cup
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About the Author
Alex is a commercial lawyer at Dentons with a particular emphasis on the media and sport sector. Alex has worked on media rights related matters for a number of clients including, the England and Wales Cricket Board and Chelsea Football Club as well on various commercial arrangements in sports such as football, cricket and formula 1.