Data is serious business. When money, assets, and identity are involved, everyone from payment providers to investment banks do their utmost to ensure all of the right checks, compliance, and security features are in place.
So why should it be any different to when millions of pounds’ worth of sports rights are concerned? Certainly, the private equity firms that are involved in bankrolling deals involving sports clubs/associations and media outlets have complete oversight of their assets under management.
To compete at the same level and not get left behind, sports right owners need a similar infrastructure. In order for their data to be visible, accessible, and manageable, they need it to be connected. They need to become sports rights platforms.
Leveraging sports rights has traditionally been a case of ‘divide and conquer’. A mix of satellite, digital, and terrestrial broadcasting rights – depending on the scale of the sporting event itself – are par for the course and have been for some time.
However, here in the UK in particular, it seems we are at a watershed moment. Proposals set forward, that would see Premier League football clubs sacrifice 25% of future TV revenues to the lower tier clubs in the English Football League, have unsurprisingly been met with more than a little disdain – as has the idea of reducing the Premier League to 18 clubs rather than 20.
Much has already been written about the European Super League and we must not forget that prior to this announcement senior figures in sport had already suggested a top team ‘breakaway league.’ In the original proposal (aka Project Big Picture) Premier League teams would be able to broadcast eight matches per year overseas via their own platforms – it seems that the stage is set for some big negotiations over the next few months and years.
Fans themselves don’t want things to be put on hold – they’ve already been patient enough this year. Teams therefore need to have their data and rights houses in order sooner rather than later.
In a similar way, sport rights owners shouldn’t have to endure long, drawn out negotiations with media owners and private equity companies. Especially when outside parties have clear aims and ambitions from the outset.
Having a connected set of rights information can put sports franchise owners back in the driver’s seat – giving them tangible leverage over those with competing interests. After all, it’s access to the brand pulling power they want. But unless owners have complete oversight and a strategic understanding of how they can maximise their rights, they’re in danger of simply kowtowing to the highest bidder for immediate money – which could compromise long-term control of their rights to organisations with larger budgets such as Media Owners and Private Equity firms.
Not only would this cause them to lose their key competitive advantage; it would see owners simply become the ‘pipe’ distributing their content to others’ platforms. However, with the right leadership approach and connected data strategy, they can become true platforms and ensure that they get the best deals – while retaining control of their rights over time.
The sports rights playing field is one fraught with complexity. The only real way forward is connectivity – which can only be driven by insight across multiple rights areas, channels, and partnerships.
Ultimately fans generate the demand, so their needs must be the primary concern. But it shouldn’t be that those with purchasing power call all of the shots. Sports right holders have a responsibility to make sure that any decisions made further their fans’ interests – which means broadening access as much as possible. However, commercial realities, driven by the huge amount of sponsorship and broadcast money on offer, have compromised this to some extent.
But the advent of new media formats and engagement opportunities are changing this. We’re at an inflection point where collaboration and transparency will become more beneficial than siloed rights – especially given that owners are catering to the needs of both global and local audiences across media, ecommerce, and retail.
As we approach the second half of 2021, sports franchises must move to become connected platforms in order to get better value for their fans, communities and wider audiences. Data accessibility is crucial in helping them remain in control of their destiny in the long term.
Without it, they effectively have nothing to leverage but their visible assets. And while these are not without merit, they need to be attributed to the wider rights narrative in order to maximise their value.
It is time to connect up your sports franchise rights across the broader multimedia field. Acting sooner rather than later could give your brand the competitive advantage it needs to overcome the challenges this past year has presented. Download the Transformation Playbook to get started on your journey today.