Sports are entering a new world of media rights with the web/digital platforms becoming available becoming more viable as a serious broadcast platform. No longer are digital rights just the “steak knives” in the sports television rights deal.

What are digital rights?

Digital rights are many different things with various options, let me name the forms:

  • Live Web Video – Game TV broadcast available streaming becoming more viable as broadband capacity increases.
  • Live Web Audio – Live game coverage streaming, with many radio stations now streaming some sports are putting a price on these rights.
  • Web Hosting – Web development & advertising outsourced for sports in return for a web site & cash
  • Mobile – new developing area that can include video & audio as above as well as “official” apps for smartphones like iPhone, Blackberry & Android.

One example that we discussed on @SportzfanRadio was where digital rights clashed with TV rights was at The Masters.  The Masters enjoyed terrific TV & web coverage with the return of Tiger Woods.  However, The Masters iPhone application video features were locked outside of the USA.  I don't think people would choose to watch The Masters on the small screen of an iPhone when HD coverage is provided via TV partners it is just an example of “old media rules” falling behind the technology.

At V21 it was interesting to hear at Sam Walch, who looks after all rights at the AFL, to talk about two types of consumers.  One who is “on the couch” who is served primarily by the television and the other who is “on the move” without access to a TV.  It is the “on the move” fan that sports are now looking to serve via the web & mobile platforms.  The next question sports face is then, “Who Pays?”

@_SportsGeek_ #v21 Being discussed. Content is King but who pays? With #AFL, #MySpace & Fremantle Media… Advertisers, Media or Consumers? 10:33 PM Apr 14th via Tweetie

The overwhelming response from fans is definitely not them but it is up to leagues like the AFL, NFL, NBA & MLB to come up with revenue models that work with the digital & mobile platforms.

How should digital rights deals be structured?
What do you think?