Business Model For Sports Rights Is About To Evolve

The traditional business model used by many Australian sporting codes – built on selling  broadcast rights to media partners – will rapidly evolve towards one focused on revenue sharing, Amanda Laing, Managing Director of Nine, has predicted. 

Speaking at the 2017 launch of Suncorp Super Netball last week, Laing cited the new revenue-sharing model between Nine and Netball Australia as a case study for the future of many other sporting codes in Australia. 

“For a sport like netball to make the leap to where it could be, and should be, we needed to come up with something different,” said Laing. “A traditional rights deal, where you pay a fee and take all the risk whether or not you attract an audience, was never going to work for Nine.

“Together (with Netball Australia) we came up with a structure to aggregate everything from venue signage on the court to signage on uniforms, etcetera, plus the broadcast assets we would normally seek to sell separately,  and went to market with a complete marketing platform for netball. This way we both share in the upside.” 

Laing said that while for some sports, such as cricket, NRL and AFL, the existing revenue model is likely to continue, many other sporting codes were already looking at a different approach, built around revenue sharing when partnering with media. 

“Already there are other sports looking to see if they can adopt that structure, or a version of it, to work together,” she said. 

“For most sports, outside of the big ones– such as AFL, NRL and cricket, they will need to do something different to take them from a viewing and fan perspective to the next level.”

Nine’s Director of Sport, Tom Malone also used the event to talk about the power of free-to-air television in building sporting codes in Australia.

“One of the big things we are excited about is that the audience for netball is going to grow,” Malone said. 

“From what has been largely a subscriber TV model, netball is now on free-to-air TV and able to reach 100 per cent of Australians. On Saturday night, 7pm, it’s now family viewing for girls and boys, teenagers, mums and dads. It is really exciting the audience proposition for going forward with netball.”

Laing and Malone’s comments were made ahead of last Saturday’s Suncorp Super Netball debut on 9Gem, which attracted a total national reach across three games of more than 850,000 viewers – a figure that is more than 130 per cent up on the season average for netball in 2016. 

Laing also argued that the audience profile of viewers during the netball broadcast on 9GEMwould be highly attractive to advertisers. 

“We have a view that corporate Australia wanted to speak to the audience for women’s sport, and in particular netball,” Laing said. 

“Women are often the decision-makers in the household and so the opportunity to be in a live sporting environment, with a predominantly female audience, was always going to be very attractive to sponsors and advertisers.

“It was a natural fit and we were able to come up with an innovative structure  to deliver benefits to both Netball Australia and Nine.” 

Laing also noted that Nine has already seen a strong commercial reaction from advertisers. 
“We have been really pleased with the commercial reaction,” she said. “It is great to have Suncorp, a new sponsor, onboard. What they have identified is the great environment you have when you are involved in women’s sport – be it the great ambassadors, massive participation base or the female audience.

“We have been very pleased with the reaction of the market,” she added, citing companies like Samsung, Telstra and Harvey Norman who have already taken our sponsorships. “I think that’s just going to grow.”