In the latest interactive monthly data report, SportBusiness Media analyses the media-rights landscape in Southeast Asia.
Further detail on the deals covered in this interactive data report is available with our Rights Tracker tool – click here for more information.
Pan-regional trends and players
Sports-media rights in Southeast Asia are usually sold on a country-by-country basis. However, some rights-holders decide to sell on a pan-regional basis, which can cover Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and others.
Many of these markets have seen common trends in recent years, with a fluctuation in media-rights values and a general slowdown in growth. Moreover, the shutdown of live sport due to the Covid-19 pandemic has stopped some media-rights payments and negotiations for key properties like the German Bundesliga, Asian Football Confederation events and the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Pay-television Fox Sports Asia (part of the Disney-owned Fox Network Group) is the main pan-regional broadcaster and dominates the market. Fox took the place of ESPN Star Sports (ESS), the joint venture between News Corp and Disney that dominated the Asian market from the early 2000s until it was dissolved in 2012, with News Corp buying out Disney’s 50-per-cent stake. In 2019, Disney took over the ownership of the broadcaster as part of a larger takeover.
The Japanese market was shaken up by the entry of OTT platform DAZN in 2016. Since then, DAZN has pursued an aggressive acquisition strategy and currently holds rights to four out of the ten most valuable properties in the market.
However, public-service broadcasters have been able to retain major rights such as the Olympic Games, Fifa World Cup and Asian Football Confederation events. Japanese agency Dentsu is also extremely active on the market.
The most valuable property in the market is the domestic J.League football competition. DAZN acquired rights in a ten-season deal, from 2017 to 2026. The deal represented a 320-per-cent increase on the value of the league’s previous five-year deal, from 2012 to 2016, with pay-television operator SkyPerfecTV.
Japan is also the most important international market for Major League Baseball. Dentsu has been a long-term league partner and currently holds rights from 2016 to 2020.
The South Korean market has experienced a downturn in sports-rights fees in recent years. Advertising is the primary source of revenue for the television business in South Korea, and growth has slowed.
Two of the biggest properties in Southeast Asia, like the Asian Football Confederation and the English Premier League, were not able to retain value in South Korea and have seen rights revenue decrease in their new cycles.
However, domestic properties’ values have remained stable. In February, the Korea Pool (a consortium composed of SBS, KBS and MBC) acquired linear and IPTV rights for the Korea Baseball Organisation’s 2020 to 2023 seasons. The deal adds to an earlier agreement between the KBO and the digital consortium group consisting of telcos KT, LG Uplus and SK Broadband and South Korea’s two biggest internet portals, Naver and Kakao. That deal for digital rights runs from 2019 to 2023.
At the same time, pay-television broadcaster JTBC agreed to a deal for domestic K-League football media rights for the 2020-23 cycle.
Free-to-air broadcasters such as SBS, KBS, SBS and MBC hold rights to some of the most valuable properties in the market, including the Fifa World Cup and the Olympics. Media group Eclat Entertainment is the main pay-television broadcaster and exploits its rights through its SpoTV platform.
Similar to South Korea, the Thai market has become tougher in recent years, as both pay-television subscribers and advertising revenue has fallen since 2017.
Pay-television broadcaster TrueVisions is one of the most active broadcasters, holding rights to two of the most valuable properties in the market, the English Premier League and Thai League 1.
The most valuable property in the market is the Premier League. TrueVisions currently holds rights with a deal from 2019-20 to 2021-22. The deal also covers Cambodia and Laos and represents a decrease of about 50 per cent on what beIN Media paid for the same set of rights, from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
TrueVisions also holds domestic rights to Thai League 1 in a deal from 2017 to 2020. The deal represented a 75-per-cent increase in value on the previous agreement, covering seasons from 2014 to 2016. The property is sold separately from the Thai Football Association rights, which are held by the Plan B Media agency in four-year global media-rights deal from 2017 to 2020.
The Malaysian market is dominated by pay-television broadcaster Astro, which in the last year, has been able to retain rights to the most valuable properties on the market at reduced rates. The country has also been affected by the wider regional issue of falling advertising revenue and declining subscriptions.
Astro managed to reduce its outlay on the English Premier League in its latest deal from 2019-20 to 2021-22. This is about 8-per-cent less than it was paying for the same set of rights, from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
Similar to international properties, domestic properties have not been able to retain or increase their value. In February, Telekom Malaysia agreed to a joint media and sponsorship rights deal for the Malaysian Football League’s properties over the three seasons from 2020 to 2022. The deal represents a 50-per-cent decline compared to a previous deal with TM that collapsed in 2019.
The Singaporean market is similar to Malaysia. It is dominated by a pay-television broadcaster, Singtel, which has been able to keep sports-rights fees pretty flat over the past few years.
Singtel currently holds rights to the English Premier League in a deal from 2019-20 to 2021-22. At the time, the Premier League had started to test the ground for the launch of an OTT platform in the country. But despite these plans, the league agreed a deal that was about 34-per-cent less than Singtel paid for the same set of rights from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
In the last few years, several companies have tried to launch sports offerings in Vietnam such as Facebook and DAZN. However, in both cases, key acquisitions were derailed and traditional broadcasters were able to swoop.
K Plus, a joint-venture between French pay-television Canal Plus and state-owned broadcaster VTV, agreed to a deal with the English Premier League after an initial deal with Facebook was cancelled.
Pay-television broadcaster SCTV sublicensed rights to Spain’s LaLiga from DAZN after the latter had originally acquired rights to LaLiga in a deal from 2018-19 to 2022-23. The OTT platform had to sublicense its rights to cut losses on the property after postponing its plans to launch.
The Indonesian market has been impacted by the entry of OTT platform Mola TV in 2018. Mola’s activity has helped make Indonesia one of the few growing sports media-rights markets in south-east Asia.
English Premier League is the leading property on the market and was Mola’s first significant acquisition. The OTT platform currently holds rights with a deal from 2019-20 to 2021-22. The agreement represents a 41-per-cent increase on the value of the deal with previous rights-holder beIN Media Group. Mola TV also holds rights to Indonesian football association events in a deal over the three years from 2019 to 2021.
Before Mola’s entrance, like many other Asia-Pacific markets, Indonesia looked to be entering a period of stagnation or decline in rights values. The market has several large media groups and broadcasters that are active in the sports-rights market including MNC, Emtek, Trans Media, Viva, Kompas and public-service broadcaster TVRI. However, despite the competition, many sports rights properties were recently considered to have hit the ceiling in terms of values and affordability.
Uefa had to resell its club competition rights in the country due to the Futbol Momentum Asia agency failing to make its payments. Uefa went back to the market last year, agreeing a two-season deal with media company Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) covering 2019-20 and 2020-21.