rights fees in sport

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The steadfast rule when it comes to sports and rights fees is that it’s the business of entertainment. The dollars are going to go where the value is. With Rights fees, networks pay fees to have the rights to a particular broadcast, for example march madness, the NFL or the Olympics.

Rights fees are determined by the value a certain property holds, this is determined by the ratings. The most important ratings market world wide is undisputedly the North American, and in particular the US market as we will later discuss with the Olympic media coverage. With in the US it is a battle field to increase ratings because of the dollar value associated with the opportunity to sell advertising and consequently the rights fees.

Personally I believe that 1.725 billion is a ridiculous amount for NBC to pay for the rights fees of March Madness. But obviously they are not mad. The economics and financials behind their decisions to continually pay more and more is justifiable. Once again boiling down to the ratings. The 70 hours of March Madness are extremely popular in the US and boast extremely high ratings. Therefore, advertisers are willing to pay the big bucks to get their ads on the air. The same is true about the Superbowl, with 30 second advertising sports reaching astronomical highs networks are lining up to buy the rights fees for the event. As Bill Brown the senior vice president of Fox Sports stated, “ we want entertainment…we want to televise the teams that will deliver us the highest ratings”. That truly summarizes the essence of sport media today, and why rights fees are working. “Fox, paying MLB about $417 million a year in a deal”, which expires next year. With baseball’s popularity on the rise again the rights fees for the league are undoubtadly going to increase. But as the numbers have shown the Fox network is the big spender when it comes to rights fees, dispensing $2.5 billion from 2001 to 2006 on MLB alone.

While Fox has a hold on baseball, Time Warner and ABC/ESPN seem to be focusing their dollars on the NBA, both handing over just over $2 billion over a 6 year period . But as aformentioned the rating speak volumes and while the NBA is very popular in the US, from a network point of view March Madness, NCAA basketball is a winner.

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