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PwC: Media Rights Will Be Sports’ Top Cash Cow

Revenue from streaming video services is expected to push media rights into the top spot among North American sports revenue generators by 2018, according to a study by research house PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Media rights — the fees paid to show sporting events on broadcast and cable TV networks, television stations, terrestrial radio, satellite radio, the Internet and on mobile devices, according to PwC — is expected to reap $18.2 billion in 2016, rising 9.3% to $19.9 billion by 2018 and inching past gate revenue for the first time. PwC estimates that gate revenue, mainly from ticket sales for live events, will reach $18.7 billion this year, rising 6% to $19.8 billion by 2018.

Streaming media rights have become increasingly important as viewership has shifted toward mobile devices, especially with the younger set.

Still, PwC expects broadcast rights preservation to remain a priority for both pro and college sports leagues through at least the next deal cycle. “As a result, direct-to-consumer offerings featuring live game content will likely continue to be positioned to incremental audiences and/or focus on consumer experiences complimentary to traditional game viewing” or more immersive, PwC said in the report.