Licensing issues persist but cancelled sporting events boost eSports | Media Analysis | Business
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Research from analyst GlobalData has found that while the cancellation of most major sporting events due to Covid-19 has led to uncomfortable negotiations regarding licensing rights, it has also provided an opportunity for eSports.
esports 19 sept 2019
The data and analytics company said content rights holders and pay-TV providers must sort out license fee issues due to cancelled sporting events as soon as possible to insulate against customer enmity and defections. It added that despite cancelled live games, pay-TV providers remain on the hook for paying sports leagues such as the NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA to carry their content, at least until contracts can be renegotiated. Therefore, service providers are continuing to charge their end users the unpopular regional sports network (RSN) fees, even though live sporting events have been cancelled.

GlobalData calculated that RSN fees can add close to $10/month to a customer’s bill - even if that customer never watches a local professional or college live-sports broadcast. Some consumers are starting to demand refunds and the elimination of those fees.

Going forward the analyst said that sports channels and major broadcast and cable networks will continue filling the void created by the cancelation of traditional sport events by airing alternatives such as live esports matches, sometimes played by athletes who play the real-life versions in the NBA and NASCAR. It noted that they are also charging for sports channels such as ESPN that are bundled into service packages, even when those channels have no live traditional sports on the schedule.

As an example, GlobalData cited ESPN which dubbed 5 April 2020 ‘Esports Day’ and delivered 12 consecutive hours of programming on ESPN2.

eSports content was on a steep upward trajectory before the current crisis and now it wad benefitting from being one of the only games in town, said GlobalData senior analyst Tammy Parker.

“eSports in the US is finally having its day in the sun. Communications service providers should take this opportunity to build on their existing initiatives to sponsor events and teams, which are becoming more well-known to mainstream audiences,” she added.