Broadcasters face screen test | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 05, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 05, 2020

Broadcasters face screen test

Sport has been forced behind closed doors for the foreseeable future but experts are divided over whether broadcasters will suffer or prosper in the new landscape.

Some believe television rights will either stagnate or decline in value, others think they will be driven up due to increased interest from tech companies such as Google and Amazon.

The sums in play are enormous. American broadcaster NBC's current deal to cover the Olympics until 2032 is worth $7.75 billion.

The English Premier League's most recent overseas TV rights package for 2019-22 rose a reported 35 percent in value to £4.2 billion ($5.25 billion) despite a fall in the value of the domestic rights.

European Broadcasting Union executive director of sport Stefan Kuerten is unconvinced that rights deals will continue to soar despite potentially millions being added to viewing figures.

The 61-year-old will on Friday step away after almost 20 years of negotiating global and European rights for events such as World Cups and Olympics on behalf of public service broadcasters.

"They (TV) will be in a strong position but will prices go up because of it? There I have doubts," he told AFP by phone from Switzerland.

He believes the virus will have an impact on the industry. "Broadcasters have learned now these kinds of pandemics exist and could ask for new exit and security clauses in contracts like a force majeure (unexpected event) or unforeseeable event.

"The virus has placed a safety belt on sports broadcasters as to whether they increase the payment in case something else happens."

Kuerten warns that viewers will tire of watching events without crowds, even if they can watch sport from the comfort of their armchairs.

"Without any fans in the stadium, TV is not sustainable for football or other sports," he said. "When the crowd reacts, then emotions spill over into the screen.

"If one of these elements is missing then there are different sensations and viewers hesitate to have the same interest in the product as before. "I have to say from my experience following matches (in the Bundesliga, taking place behind closed doors), something is missing."

British advertising tycoon Martin Sorrell, who founded advertising giant WPP, is more bullish, though he admits the waters are choppy.

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