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Rights owners are delivering added value to partners during unprecedented times

2 minute read | Iain Mcdougall, Associate Director, Nielsen Sports | July 2020

Live sport in Australia is rebooting; however, the commercial model and assets behind the sporting codes have fundamentally changed.

While the industry pines for the days when the stadiums were packed with fans, the empty venues have made leagues and broadcasters think differently about how they deliver commercial value to partners via new assets and inventory that have been rolled out with the absence of crowds.

The initial ways they are doing this is through virtual or banner signage covering empty seats and fan-driven graphic integrations within the broadcast. This, coupled with strong viewership gains since the re-commencement of live sport, means that 2020 is finally giving fans, leagues and rights holders something to cheer about. Nielsen Sports reveals how these activities have delivered value and positive trends for the sports landscape.

A Nielsen’s Sport24 2020 year-to-date analysis depicts positive year-on-year value gains for both AFL & NRL Premiership partnership assets, assessed across total code, team and venue inventory within live dedicated broadcasts.

At the end of round 3 of the AFL Premiership season, total game inventory value had increased 5% in 2020 (vs. 2019), despite a 9% deficit at the completion of round 1. In addition to new venue and broadcast assets, the AFL now allows teams to showcase team partners at the top of the guernsey back, helping to offset the impact of a shortened season.

Meanwhile for the NRL, it’s an even more impressive story, where total Sport24 asset value has risen 15% over the first six rounds of the season year on year. Headlining Australia’s re-introduction to live sport, capturing strong viewership numbers, Round 3 of the 2020 NRL season delivered a 39% value increase on the corresponding round last year.

Nielsen’s Sport24 tracking in 2020 also highlights the distribution of live broadcast value by primary platform source. The differing broadcast structures across AFL and NRL lend to contrasting shares. Close to 80% of total NRL asset value is delivered via subscription services (56% STV, 22% Kayo), while free-to-air TV accounts for nearly 50% of the total value (38% STV, 13% Kayo) across AFL.  

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to challenge sports leagues, working through altered schedules and venue allocations, the ability to provide these new asset initiatives to partners will continue to help offset other commercial shortcomings. The resurgence in viewership also helps ease the burden faced by sports in 2020.

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