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FREE | US College Data Report, 2019

In the latest interactive monthly data report, SportBusiness Media analyses the media-rights landscape of US College sports.

Further detail on the deals covered in this interactive data report is available with our Rights Tracker tool – click here for more information.

Set for stability

‘US College Sports’ is defined as all sports played within the US NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) college sports system, including American football, basketball and baseball.

It has the fifth-highest annual media-rights value globally, according to the 2018 SportBusiness Consulting Global Report.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the most valuable property, generating $810m (€726.7m) in 2018. It accounts for 26 per cent of the value of US College sport.

US College media rights are predicted by SportBusiness Consulting to remain steady, since major conferences such as the American Athletic Conference, NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference have long-term contracts in place.

College sports media rights are long-term in their nature in order to provide financial stability for the College or competition. As a result, rights are expected to grow by 0.06 per cent from 2019 to 2020, compared to 5.3 per cent in 2017 to 2018.


New domestic deals

The most recent media-rights deal signed by a US college conference was the American Athletic Conference deal in March with pay-television broadcaster ESPN.

Under the agreement, which runs for 13 seasons from 2020-21 to 2032-33, ESPN will pay $83.3m per season. This represents a rise of nearly 350 per cent on the previous deal from 2013-14 to 2019-20, worth $18.6m per season.

The NCAA has also secured its long-term broadcasting future, signing an eight-year domestic deal in 2016 with US broadcasters CBS and Turner. The broadcasters agreed to pay a 43-per-cent fee increase to $1.1bn per year to lock down NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship rights from 2025 to 2032.

The conference’s existing 14-year deal with the two broadcasters, from 2011 to 2024, is worth $771m per year.


OTT trend

Several conferences in 2019 have partnered with broadcasters to make their content available on an OTT service rather than launching their own platforms.

As part of its new deal with ESPN signed earlier this year, the American Athletic Conference will have more than 11,000 events aired on OTT platform ESPN+ during the length of the agreement.

The Big Ten Conference has changed its approach to suit this partnership model. After introducing its BTN2GO OTT service for the 2017-18 season — hosting original shows, live games and archive content — the conference is set to close its own OTT service and move its content onto the Fox Sports app.

University rights

Two of college sports broadcasting’s key players – IMG College and Learfield – received approval last December to join forces to create a powerhouse of US college sports marketing.

Learfield IMG College has an 83-per-cent market share of college sports broadcasting and marketing rights.

First announced in 2017, the Department of Justice investigated the proposed merger to understand whether it created a monopoly. After 15 months of investigation, the elimination of exclusive negotiating windows and non-compete clauses enabled the approval of the merger.

Non-compete clauses were in Learfield IMG College employees’ contracts. If a school decided to take its rights in-house or switch rights holders, employees did not have the freedom to move with the property.

Most recent

TF1 and M6’s joint acquisition of Euro 2020 free-to-air rights was struck at a similar per-match fee as the one they paid for the last comparable edition of the tournament, in 2012.

There are two truisms in the sale of sports media rights which at first glance appear difficult to reconcile. One is that every market has a unique set of characteristics and the value earned is contingent upon those characteristics at the moment the rights are sold. The other is that the early deals in a market-by-market sales cycle create a psychological benchmark which affects how sales in the following markets play out.

The International Olympic Committee extended a long run of media-rights revenue growth in Japan in its latest deal with the market’s free-to-air broadcaster consortium for 2026 to 2032, when the special case of the large Tokyo 2020 sales cycle is disregarded.

Absent any competition for Greek Cup rights in Cyprus, Cyta translated a 33-per-cent fall in inventory directly into a near one-third discount.