A current view of the sports media rights market from Head of Legal, Sport at BTAlex Slade
This is an extract from the Sport & Media Rights chapter of the LawInSport & BASL Sports Law Yearbook 2016/17. To access or order a full copy of the Yearbook, please see here.
Note: The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own.
2016/17 has been a busy year. The general theme was digital – whether it was social media exploitation, M&A prospects for digital companies, piracy, “cord-cutting” or access to content. The explosion of eSports and the arrival of drone racing has also added new excitement and opportunities into the rights market and the year has seen these being pushed to the forefront of broadcasters’ minds.
Whilst these developments have caused a few challenges for traditional broadcasters, they were not a surprise. We have all been moving towards a more digital-heavy offering and the way in which these new opportunities are exploited is where the focus has been, and is likely to be for some time to come.
This article explores some of the most interesting commercial developments for sports broadcasters in 2016/17, including:
- Social media and digital exploration – looking at the moves by established social media players such as Twitter and Facebook into mainstream sports broadcasting;
- Mergers and acquisitions – looking at the key activity in the space, most notably surrounding Formula 1 and UFC;
- Changing consumption models - looking at how broadcasters are responding to piracy concerns and the recent shift in consumer viewing demands;
- eSports and drone racing – looking at how the latest sports trends are being approached by broadcasters;
- Free to air – a brief update on the sector’s performance; and
- Looking forward – what is to come in the remainder of 2017.
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About the Author
Alex Slade is Head of Legal, Sport at BT. He joined BT early in 2013 and is part of its multi award winning Media legal team that helped launch the BT Sport channels in August that year. His main focus is the acquisition of sports rights for the channels but the role covers all areas of sports broadcasting and media rights including sponsorship, talent, distribution and production matters. Prior to BT he worked for 6 years in kids TV at Nickelodeon and before that spent a year out competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Alex lives with his wife and three daughters in Suffolk.