EPL strength to drive APAC sports rights growth

The popularity of the English Premier League in Asia is set to drive overall sports rights growth in the APAC region.

According to a new report from Media Partners Asia on the region’s sports rights, sports media revenues are set to grow at a 6% CAGR over 2021-26 to reach US$8.9 billion. This is up from US$6.7 billion in 2021. 

It notes that after a 15% contraction during the pandemic in 2020, sports media revenues grew 30%-plus in 2021 and they are projected to grow by 11% in 2022.

Rights costs will similarly grow in 2022, increasing by 5.6% this year to reach US$6.5 billion. These will grow at a CAGR of 4.0% between 2021-26 to reach US$7.4 bil. by 2026

Football is the most popular sport across the region – despite the rabid focus on cricket in South Asian nations like India – with the EPL being the most popular. Despite the league’s popularity, its rights valuation for the region has fallen by around 25% to US$1.4 billion because of a deterioration in China. Outside of China, rights to the league in Asia grew by 10% to US$1.2 billion as a result of increases in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

MPA executive director Vivek Couto said: “Sports remains vital in Asia Pacific as a tactical weapon to build brand and market share and in certain instances, pricing power. However premium tier-1 rights generally remain loss leaders or break even bets, especially in the case of marquee football and cricket properties. 

“TV platforms remain important for the value of sports rights and monetization but the growth of online video as well as tighter consumer and advertising wallets have squeezed growth in key Asia Pacific markets with many players impacted by cord cutting as customers continue to churn to: (1) Integrated entertainment and sports streaming platforms; (2) Pure play sports streaming platforms; and (3) Piracy.”

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