ABSTRACT

In recent years the number of TV channels involved in sports broadcasting has increased substantially. The process started in the 1970s in North America and some years later on other continents such as Europe. This development has paved the way for a fi erce competition between channels, which has increased the rights fees on the most attractive sports rights dramatically, as has been documented in several places in this book. On some occasions, however, the competition has increased rights fees so much that the company that acquired the rights has been hit by the winner’s curse. Over the years, quite a number of sports rights deals have ended up being unprofi table, which is illustrated by the examples below:

Telepiu and Stream, the leading Italian pay-TV channels lost respectively, $300 million and $200 million each from these deals during the 2001/2 season. Thus, the renewal of the deals before the 2002/3 Serie A season did not go as smoothly as before. The poorest clubs rejected the new offer from the TV channels and therefore the league was delayed by two weeks. The problems were solved when the six wealthiest clubs paid the difference between the offer from the TV channels and what the poorest clubs demanded.1 As a consequence of these problems the Italian authorities have recently allowed the channels to merge.2