The Business Of Sport - June 2022

Written By Harrie Smith

Every month, the team at SM22 brings you the key updates in the world of sports business.

IPL rights:

From the first season of the IPL in 2008, the series has become one of the most valuable global sports assets. Earlier this month, Viacom18, Times Internet and Disney Star paid an eyewatering $6.2bn for the IPL rights for the 2023-2027 cycle. This represents a near sixfold increase on the $1.05bn paid by Sony back in 2008.

This development concludes a significant bidding war for packages split across domestic distribution, digital rights and rest of the world distribution. Star India paid $3bn for the domestic TV rights, with Viacom18 ending its dominance by capturing the domestic and key market digital rights, also for $3bn. Other participants included Google, Amazon and Sony, demonstrating the weight of demand for the IPL.

The deal places the per-match TV value at $7.36m/game, ranking alongside the Premier League and NFL in cost-per-match terms. The digital streaming rights from 2023 for the annual two-month competition were sold for $6.4m per match. Mihir Shir, VP of Media Partners India claimed “The fact that digital rights value was higher than television showcases the scale and future potential of streaming in India.”

This deal places the IPL as the second most valuable global sports asset, behind only the National Football League. What will the rights be valued at for the 2027-cycle? Will we see the first $10bn+ rights transaction?


RedBird Capital buys AC Milan:

Leading US sports investment group RedBird Capital Partners announced in early June that they have entered a definitive agreement to acquire AC Milan from Elliot Management, in a deal valuing the club at €1.2bn.

According to Managing Director Gerry Cardinale, the priority for RedBird is to “continue Milan’s journey back to the summit of world football. RedBird will seek to continue the exceptional progress of Milan in the last few years, enhanced by player development and expertise, a world-class commercial operation and RedBird’s network of leading partners across the globe.

This transaction is supplemented by the club’s €30m/year Puma kit deal extension,with the brand remaining as Milan’s global technical supplier and official licensing partner.


Apple TV deal with the MLS:

In a historic deal worth $2.5bn, Apple will stream all MLS matches for 10 years,commencing next year.

This deal has been long in the making, with the MLS informing clubs to not sign local distribution deals past 2022 back in 2019. Apple will have full rights to global distribution, with all games to be played on Saturday and Wednesday on Apple TV.

Though the$250m/year deal is certainly more lucrative than the previous $90m/year deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision, the Premier League receives $450m/year from NBC for its American broadcast rights alone. It will be fascinating to see if the MLS broadcast deal outstrips the Premier League post-2032.


Wimbledon partners with Roblox to target younger fans through the metaverse

The historic Centre Court at Wimbledon has been recreated in the Roblox platform as part of the tournament's 100-year celebration and strategy to target younger audiences.

‘WimbleWorld’is a novel channel to engage the younger audience, allowing fans to roam a fantasy representation of the ground with their digital avatar and compete against each other on the court. In addition, the ecosystem offers social features, online games and video content to add a new experiential layer to the historic event.

Christian Wootton, VP of partnerships at Roblox claimed “Roblox is a platform where millions of tennis and sports fans can connect globally and so the launch of WimbleWorld represents an incredible opportunity for Wimbledon to engage a whole new audience.” Which tier 1 rights holders follow suit…