Disney Star retains Premier League media rights at lower fee

Sources say the broadcaster is paying $60 million for three years, which is $21 million less compared to the previous three-year cycle

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Apr 18, 2022 8:43 AM  | 3 min read
football

Disney Star has renewed its media rights deal with Premier League for another three years till 2025. If the industry buzz is to be believed, the broadcaster is paying $60 million for the three-year rights. This is a drop of $21 million compared to the previous three-year cycle (2019-20 to 2021-22) when the broadcaster was paying $81 million.

“Disney Star is paying $60 million for three years. In the previous cycle, the company was paying $81 million,” said a source close to the development.

Another source said the three-year deal includes a cash component of $50 million-plus marketing investments of $2-3 million a year.

Explaining the drop in the value, the source further stated that the Premier League as a media property has a very niche following. Unlike cricket, the free commercial time (FCT) during football matches is very less. This diminishes the chances of monetisation through advertising.

“Premier League is perceived as a niche property. It has the potential to do well on digital due to the kind of TG that it attracts,” the source averred.

Disney Star refused to comment on the financial details of the media rights deal with the Premier League.

Star Sports has been showcasing Premier League in India for almost two decades. Currently, the channel broadcasts over 1000 hours of Premier League content annually on TV and all the 380 games are streamed on Disney+ Hotstar.

The company has claimed that the Premier League viewership in India has grown over 10x in the past six years. The growth, it added, has come on the back of initiatives like regional language commentary in Malayalam and Bangla for key matches through the season. Regional commentary has led to a 3x growth in viewership per match, the company said.

Further, the company said that it has created strong marketing campaigns and celebrity-led campaigns, especially for the Indian market. As part of its offline engagement with fans, the company has organised select screenings for fans to come together and support their favourite teams.

It has also done content collaborations with top Premier League clubs to create special programming for Indian fans. It also has an initiative called Star Sports Fantasy Cup which allows Indian fans to participate and prove their mettle.

Premier League media rights value had hit the roof when ESPN Star Sports (ESS), then a joint venture (JV) between Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Walt Disney, had paid $145 million for the three-year deal from 2013-14 to 2015-16.

The India business of ESS, which subsequently got rebranded as Star Sports following the acquisition by Star India, renewed the Premier League media rights for $99 million, a reduction of $46 million compared to the previous deal cycle.

In the last few years, the value of most non-India cricket and international sports properties has seen a decline in value due to consolidation in the sports broadcast industry and the rise in the value of strategically important properties like BCCI, ICC, and IPL, say industry watchers.

 

 

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