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FREE | Baltics market report, 2020

In the latest interactive monthly data report, SportBusiness Media analyses the media-rights landscape in the Baltics region, consisting of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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

Market dynamics

Rights in the region are mostly sold collectively, although a few rights-holders approach the territory on a country-by-country basis.

There is no dominant sport in the Baltics: basketball and soccer are very popular, as are winter sports.

In recent years, the market has been dominated by the TV3 media group (previously known as All Media Baltics). Until a few years ago, Modern Times Group operated in the region and acquired rights for both the Nordics and the Baltics. In 2017, MTG sold its free-to-air television, pay-television, digital and radio businesses in the Baltic region to US private equity investment firm Providence Equity Partners. The deal valued the company at €115m, which initially became All Media Baltics and then rebranded to TV3 Group.

Other players in the market include national broadcasters like ERR in Estonia, LRT in Lithuania, and LTV in Latvia.

Rights-holders from different sports are now approaching the market for their new cycles. They expect increased competition for their rights, due to the launch of Nordic Entertainment (Nent) Group’s Viaplay streaming service in the Baltic nations in 2021. Nent has already started building its sports portfolio in the Baltics by acquiring rights to the Bundesliga, Formula 1, and NHL.

Top international properties

The English Premier League is the most valuable property in the region. TV3 Group currently holds the rights in a three-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2021-22. Rights were sold by the Saran agency. It acquired EPL rights in the Baltics and Central Asia for the 2019-22 cycle from the IMG agency, which initially acquired rights directly from the league. The latter deal was part of a wider deal across Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia worth approximately $40m per season across 26 countries. The current deal in the Baltics is an increase of at least 10.5 per cent on the value of TV3’s previous three-season EPL deal in the Baltics, for the 2016-19 cycle, which was also done with Saran.

Uefa Champions League and Europa League rights are also valuable in the Baltics, where TV3 holds both properties in the 2018-19 to 2020-21 cycle. This is an increase of just over 70 per cent on the broadcaster’s deal for the same rights in the 2015-18 cycle.

In October 2020, the Team Marketing agency issued the invitation to bid for Uefa club competitions in the next cycle, from 2021-22 to 2023-24.

Rights to the other big European soccer leagues are held by other pan-regional pay-tv broadcasters like Setanta Sports and Eurosport. Rights to Spain’s LaLiga and Italy’s Serie A are currently held by Setanta, in two three-season deals from 2018-19 to 2020-21 with the Advisers Media International agency and IMG, respectively. AMI holds rights in a three-season direct deal from 2018-19 to 2020-21 in the Baltics and Central Asia. In October this year, LaLiga’s international distributor Mediapro agreed to a new five-season agreement, from 2021-22 to 2025-26, in the Baltics with Setanta Sports.

Eurosport currently holds rights to Germany’s Bundesliga in a four-season deal, from 2017-18 to 2020-21. In March 2020, Nent acquired rights to the Bundesliga starting in the 2021-22 season as part of its return in the region through its Viaplay services.

National broadcasters have massively invested in all rights for Uefa national team competitions in separate deals in each of the Baltic countries. Estonian public broadcaster ERR holds exclusive rights to all Euro 2020 matches and first- and second-party European Qualifier and Nations League rights. In Lithuania, the national team rights are split between three broadcasters. Commercial broadcaster LNK has Euro 2020 rights, while public-service broadcaster LRT acquired rights to first- and second-party European Qualifier and Nations League matches. TV3 acquired third-party European Qualifier and Nations League rights in Estonia and Lithuania, and was awarded all Uefa national team rights in Latvia.

The Baltics’ most valuable international properties also include basketball competitions such as Euroleague Basketball and the NBA.

For the Euroleague, TV3 holds rights across the Baltics in a three-season deal from 2020-21 to 2022-23. But the current deal, agreed in August, excludes free-to-air rights in the valuable Lithuanian market. LRT has acquired the free-to-air rights in Lithuania to all games involving Lithuanian sides BC Žalgiris, which plays in the top-tier EuroLeague, and BC Lietkabelis, which plays in the second-tier EuroCup. The value of Euroleague Basketball rights in the Baltics from 2015-16 to 2019-20 increased by about 88 per cent.

TV3 also holds rights to the NBA across the Baltic region in a four-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2022-23. The NBA had previously sold rights in the region separately: to sports broadcaster Sport 1 and internet news portal Delfi (in Lithuania), and to telco Tet (Lattelecom) in Latvia and Estonia, in three-season deals, from 2016-17 to 2018-19. The league also had a deal in Estonia with media company Eesti Meedia for the 2018-19 season only.

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

Baltic properties

While international properties are extremely valuable in the market, domestic properties generate a lower media-rights revenue.

National broadcasters in the three Baltic countries hold the most significant domestic properties on the market, with deals for national soccer and basketball competitions.

The most important local property among all sports is the Lithuanian Basketball League, for which commercial broadcast LNK holds rights in a four-season deal from 2017-18 to 2020-21. Among the three countries, the Estonian Meistriliiga is the soccer property with the most visibility, with ERR holding rights domestically.

Most recent

The National Hockey League boosted the value of its rights in Germany and Austria in its latest sales round. But it only agreed one-season deals with its primary pay-television broadcasters after bidders failed to meet its longer-term valuation.

An experimental deal between New Zealand Rugby and digital platform RugbyPass has underscored the difficulty the Sanzaar alliance and its member rugby unions have had selling international rights for the 2021-25 cycle.

FreeSports is hoping its two-year deal for exclusive rights to the Afghanistan and Zimbabwe national cricket teams’ home matches will help create a unique identity for the channel, which has long acted as a shop window for sister broadcaster Premier Sports.

International broadcaster Eleven Sports has successfully decreased its outlay for French Ligue 1 rights in Portugal in a three-season renewal.