The rise of live sports broadcasts in the UK

This article traces the ways in which the boom in live sports broadcasts in Britain is affecting the economy.

Live broadcasts of big sports events are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Moreover, as TV rights for these events are often being sold for billions of pounds, the impact on the UK economy is potentially significant.

Case studies of the rising interest in live sports broadcasting

The earliest live sports broadcasts in the UK were broadcasts of UK league football matches in the 1960s. Nowadays, however, live broadcasts are made of sporting events across the world, such as the NFL in the US. In addition, plans are in place to broadcast events such as the Euro 2020 World Cup and the Fifa World Cup. In the case of the Euro 2020 World Cup, for example, BBC and ITV plan to broadcast all the matches, rather than just (as occurred in previous years) the highlights from the matches.

How will this affect the UK economy?

UK TV channels need to purchase broadcasting rights from the owners if they want to be able to broadcast sporting events live. Often, this will involve purchasing rights from US based companies such as NBC, Sky Sports and Discovery. For example, in 2016, UK TV channels managed to broadcast several parts of the Olympics live after doing a deal for around $7 billion with Discovery. However, some of the broadcasting rights that the BBC had hoped to purchase for the Rio Olympics were denied them.

The affect of these deals (which, as in the case of the Olympics, can reach into the billions of dollars) will impact a broad range of sectors of the UK economy. Sports and media based economies will be benefited by such deals, however the night time economies will also be at an advantage. Bars and pubs will now be able to screen a wider range of live sports and this in its turn will enable them to attract a larger customer base. Other related industries like sports betting are growing as well.

The bottom line: more live sports on TV in the UK

Sports loving viewers at home will no doubt feel that they are getting the full advantage of their TV licence when they are able to watch key international sporting events live. In addition, the rising popularity of live sports broadcasts in the UK will have a positive impact on the night time and entertainment economies.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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