Big money signings: why premium sports need top-of-the league delivery

We learnt yesterday that the value of premium sports content shows no sign of slowdown. A 70% increase from the fees paid for the 2013–2016 seasons, BT and Sky are between them to pay an astonishing £5.136 billion ($7.8 billion) for domestic English Premier League (EPL) TV rights for seasons 2016–2019.

Sky won the rights to screen 126 of the 168 matches on offer with BT Sport securing the remaining 42. It was an interesting tussle that highlighted the core strategic value of this content; Virgin Media cried foul, citing inefficiencies with the auction process. BT and Sky jockeyed for position for premium Saturday afternoon content while Discovery International (owners of Eurosport and beIN Sports) considered gatecrashing the party as a new entrant.

So important was claiming back the title of the home of English Football to Sky that it sanctioned an increase of 83% on its outlay for EPL rights, from £760million per season in the current cycle to almost £1.4 billion per season for those pending. In short that’s circa £11 million per game shown.

Should we be surprised by these numbers and the passionate nature of the auction process? Not really. The £3.018 billion paid for seasons 2013–2016 was a similar upward surge of circa 70% on prior season cycles so this latest round simply follows that pattern and essentially confirms what we all know; that premium sports in a domestic market is a sure-fire way to bolster subscription offerings and maintain subscriber interest.

Premier League football rights are without doubt crucial to the triple-play Pay-TV, Broadband, and telephone subscription products BT and Sky offer to UK households. Both companies are expected to move into the quad-play space by bundling mobile network access in the near future and the ability to provide content of this nature to an increasingly passionate fan-base is an obvious way to help maintain loyalty for subscription services.

With investments of this scale being made in premium content the next obvious consideration is how best to deliver it. Delivery without compromise is a mandate not only for the paying subscriber but also the rights holder. To compromise such strategic content through poor and uncontrollable delivery mechanisms is to compromise these strategic investment decisions. An ability to handle peak draw during live streaming is an essential consideration while also ensuring a true ‘live’ experience by keeping latency of delivery to a minimum.

At Edgeware, we guarantee both.


Matt Parker
Director, New Business Development


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