Local media rights revenue for MLB, NBA and NHL teams will surpass revenue from ticket sales for the first time in 2018 according to research from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Regional sports networks are the main factor powering the surge in local rights.
PwC says those individual deals are expected to total about $20.1 billion next year, outpacing ticket sales in 2018, which PwC estimates to be at $19.6 billion. RSN deals will continue to be negotiated for the next few years, while many of the national media contracts won’t expire until 2021.
The increasing local RSN rights are the main reason why Fox is considering selling its 20 Fox Sports Net affiliates to Disney. PriceWaterhouse Coopers says money for MLB, NBA, and NHL rights deals will continue to rise at a 4.3% annual rate to $22.7 billion by 2021, while gate receipts revenue is expected to increase by 2.3% to $21 billion in that same period. This further illustrates that teams will be making more money from TV/radio/online rather than ticket sales.
Even with cord cutting, PwC feels that there won’t be much disruption in media rights deals. The company says rightsholders will do all they can to keep the status quo and provide unique content that won’t be available on other channels.
Local RSNs are finding good numbers as long as their teams are doing well. In addition, depending on the team, some will have ratings that surpass the national broadcast and cable networks.
Teams will continue to look at the RSNs for increased rights fees to generate a huge and consistent revenue stream, and that won’t be changing any time soon.