There is “every reason to be optimistic” that the Premier League’s next television rights deal will be even more lucrative than the last, according to its new chief executive.
The league is already active in selling rights for the next cycle starting in 2022, with a six-year deal for rights in the Nordic region announced earlier this week which was worth a reported £2billion.
The value of overseas rights in the 2019-2022 period rose to £4.35bn, helping to secure an overall increase in the amount earned despite a drop-off in the value of domestic rights.
Richard Masters became the permanent successor to Richard Scudamore in December last year, and remains bullish about the league’s pulling power.
“We have every reason to be optimistic about the future of sports rights. I don’t think the bubble has burst, because our business is effectively hedged between domestic performance and international performance,” he said.
“The domestic rights did go down by a small margin last time around, but off the back of two big leaps. International revenue has continued to grow. The Premier League is in growth. I have no reason to believe that it won’t continue to be so.”
One huge growth area last time was the Chinese market. The Premier League was criticised for not speaking out in support of Mesut Ozil, the Arsenal playmaker who highlighted the plight of Uighur Muslims in China in December.
The state broadcaster in China pulled the Gunners’ match against Manchester City following Ozil’s post, but Masters insisted the league was justified in staying silent on the matter.
“I think when it happened he is entitled to his own views and it was an issue for Arsenal really,” he said. “They put out their statement and we didn’t feel as the Premier League we needed to get involved.”
Masters said the league looked at the possibility of selling Premier League content ‘direct to consumer’ in some markets last time, but opted against it. Masters said that remains on the table for the next cycle, and said at some stage in the future it is inevitable.
“We were ready last time and we will be ready next time should the opportunity arise,” he said.
“And eventually – and I’m not saying it will happen in the next cycle or when it will happen – but eventually the Premier League will move to a mix of direct consumer and media rights sales. It is impossible to say when that will be.
“There is risk associated with it,” Masters admitted.
“The Premier League has been successful and sports competitions have been successful by seeking partnerships with established broadcasters and having secure funding as its model.
“Secure funding, secure licensed revenue, as opposed to direct consumer revenue – which is an entirely different strategy – the transition from one to the other if and when it ever happens would be a big moment.”
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