PwC: Media Rights Will Be Sports’ Top Cash Cow

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Revenue from streaming video services is expected to push media rights into the top spot among North American sports revenue generators by 2018, according to a study by research house PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Media rights — the fees paid to show sporting events on broadcast and cable TV networks, television stations, terrestrial radio, satellite radio, the Internet and on mobile devices, according to PwC — is expected to reap $18.2 billion in 2016, rising 9.3% to $19.9 billion by 2018 and inching past gate revenue for the first time. PwC estimates that gate revenue, mainly from ticket sales for live events, will reach $18.7 billion this year, rising 6% to $19.8 billion by 2018.

Streaming media rights have become increasingly important as viewership has shifted toward mobile devices, especially with the younger set.

Still, PwC expects broadcast rights preservation to remain a priority for both pro and college sports leagues through at least the next deal cycle. “As a result, direct-to-consumer offerings featuring live game content will likely continue to be positioned to incremental audiences and/or focus on consumer experiences complimentary to traditional game viewing” or more immersive, PwC said in the report.

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