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FREE | Middle East and Africa market report, 2020

In the latest interactive monthly data report, SportBusiness Media analyses the media-rights landscape in the Middle East and Africa.

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

The rise of Mena

According to the 2019 SportBusiness Consulting Global Report, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) was the seventh-most valuable media market in the world, the first time the region has entered the top 10 in the report. Media rights in Mena generated about $1.2bn (€1.08bn) in 2019, accounting for 2.4 per cent of the total global sports-rights market.

From 2018 to 2019, the Mena media-rights market grew by 13.7 per cent, and last year’s media-rights revenue was 32-per-cent higher than in 2017. Among the top 10 global markets, Mena is the third-fastest growing media rights market, with a growth forecast of 7.6-per-cent CAGR to 2022.

Differently from other markets in the top 10, the growth of the media-rights market value in the Mena region is mainly driven by the increase in the value of international properties. Football remains the main sport in the region, with eight out of 10 of the most valuable properties being international football competitions.

BeIN Media Group, a Qatar-based pay-television broadcaster, dominates the market, owning rights to nine out of the top 10 properties. However, beIN might be reluctant to invest more in the future due to conflicts with the beoutQ pirate broadcaster in the region.

Yousef Al-Obaidly, chief executive of beIN Media Group, addressed the issue last year, saying that beIN “now regard all sports rights as non-exclusive and our commercial offers will reflect that”.

A market focused on international properties

Uefa Champions League and Europa League rights are the most valuable media rights in Mena, with about 22 per cent of the market share. The 208-per-cent increase in the value of rights to Uefa’s club competitions in the current cycle (2018-19 to 2020-21) impacted the whole Mena media-rights market in 2019 and helped to sustain the regional market growth.

The top European football domestic leagues are also amongst the most valuable properties in the region.

The current English Premier League deal with beIN, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, represents an 8-per-cent increase on the previous deal in the region. Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s LaLiga increased their media rights revenues by about 70-per-cent and 80-per-cent, respectively, compared to their previous deals in the region. Last year, LaLiga agreed to a new deal with beIN starting in 2020-21 until 2023-24 that generated an additional 5-per-cent increase on the current deal. Germany’s Bundesliga also increased its media rights revenues in the region by 226-per-cent, due to a deal with beIN signed in 2015 that is ending at the end of this season.

The only two non-football properties in the top 10 most valuable properties are the FIA Formula One World Championship and the Olympic Games. For the first, Dubai-based free-to-air MBC Media holds a deal until 2023.

MBC supplanted beIN for the F1 rights, acquiring rights for about the same amount paid by MP & Silva in 2014. BeIN had acquired F1 rights for 2014 to 2018 from the now-defunct MP & Silva agency. BeIN holds rights to four editions of the Olympic Games until 2024, registering an increase by 290-per-cent on the IOC’s previous deal with the Arab States Broadcasting Union for the 2014 and the 2016 editions of the games.

Click on each property logo to filter historical media-rights value information.

Sub-Saharan Africa media rights

The sub-Saharan Africa media-rights market generates about 40 per cent of the amount generated by the Mena region. In 2019, media rights from the top 10 most valuable properties in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for about 1 per cent of the total global sports-rights market.

From 2018 to 2019 the sub-Saharan media-rights market grew by 11 per cent, mainly driven by the renewal of the English Premier League, the most valuable property in the region.

Similar to the Mena region, the growth of the media-rights market in sub-Saharan Africa has mainly been driven by the increase in the value of international properties. Only one out of the top 10 most valuable deals in the region is for the rights to a property with domestic interest: Sanzaar rugby union.

Pay-television broadcaster SuperSport dominates the market with about $478m per season invested in retaining rights to seven out of the top 10 properties in the market. Pay-television rival StarTimes holds rights to the remaining top properties.

Both broadcasters took advantage of the decision by Econet Media Limited to put an end to the Kwese TV pay-television service in 2019, which allowed the other competitors to secure rights to important competitions and bolster their portfolios.

The English Premier League is the most valuable property in sub-Saharan Africa, having a 44-per-cent market share.  SuperSport and the Infront agency hold rights to the Premier League in two singular deals for the 2019-22 cycle. This represents a 25-per-cent increase in the value of the Premier Leagues rights in the region compared to the previous 2016-17 to 2018-19 cycle.

The value of Uefa’s Champions League rights also dwarfs the other properties in sub-Saharan Africa with about 30-per-cent of the market share. From its deal for the 2018-21 cycle with SuperSport, Canal Plus Afrique and StarTimes, Uefa was able to generate a 13-per-cent increase in the value of these rights in the region compared to the previous 2015-16 to 2017-18 cycle.

SuperSport also holds pay television rights for Sanzaar events, which involve the South African Rugby team, in a deal from 2016 until the end of 2020. Almost 55-per-cent of the value of the rights is assigned to the Rugby Championship and the Super Rugby competitions, while the remaining 45-per-cent is allocated to a deal with the South African Rugby Union for the domestic Currie Cup and other domestic properties, including some home national-team matches.

In December 2019, SuperSport renewed its Sanzaar rights until 2025, paying a similar amount to the current cycle.

Click on each property logo to filter historical media-rights value information.

Middle East, Africa properties domestically and globally

Although the Middle Eastern and African media markets rely almost completely on international properties, both still generate a modest amount of revenue for domestic rights-holders, both internationally and domestically.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) events are the most valuable African properties, as a result of 12-year global media and sponsorship agreement, from 2017 to 2028, with French agency Lagardère. However, in 2019, CAF cancelled the contract following multiple regulatory rulings in Africa. Lagardère has contested the body’s right to terminate. A decision on the case has yet to be finalised, although in December 2019, the International Chamber of Commerce rejected Lagardère’s application for interim emergency measures aimed at keeping the contract in force pending the arbitration on merits.

BeIN Media Group and SuperSport both agreed to deals with Lagardère for CAF rights in Mena and sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. BeIN signed to a 12-year deal, while SuperSport agreed to an eight-year contract until 2024.

CAF also agreed to a direct deal with the African Union of Broadcasters for free-to-air rights to CAF events until the end of 2022.

Another valuable domestic property in the market is the Saudi Professional League (SPL). The Saudi Arabian Football Federation agreed to a 10-season deal with Saudi Telecom Company in February 2018, registering a 61-per-cent increase on the previous deal with MBC Media. However, in 2019, STC announced that it planned to terminate the deal.

Apart from football, cricket is also a valuable sport in the market. In 2015, SuperSport agreed to a deal with Cricket South Africa for rights to its home events, from 2015 to 2021.

The graph shows some of the most valuable Middle Eastern and African properties.

Most recent

Tech giant Amazon’s acquisition of UK rights to the Autumn Nations Cup competition has triggered a debate over whether the company will now embark upon a concerted push into rugby.

The surprise emergence of free-to-air broadcaster KBS as a bidder for German Bundesliga rights in South Korea generated some competition during the 2020-22 sales process, but not enough to stave off a dip in value.

Chinese internet giant Tencent picked up the English Premier League rights for the 2020-21 season at a massive discount compared to the value of the terminated deal with previous rights-holder PPTV.

European Handball Federation club competition rights have decreased in value in several key markets, with incumbents dropping out to leave tough market conditions for seller Infront.