Saturday, June 19, 2021

ESPN's Euro 2020 Paying Off (MLS's slice getting smaller)

In 2016 ESPN paid $110 million for the rights to international European competition through 2022. That includes this year's European Championships as well as the Nations League tournament games. 

It's starting to look like a steal for the network as through the first 12 games it is nearly averaging 1 million viewers (934k) per match.

What does this look like compared to ESPN's deal with MLS? Well, ESPN and Fox pay a combined annual rights fee of $75 million for MLS and US national team (men and women) games. We don't know how much the NT games cost, but of the sake of argument let's say it is $25m per year. That leaves MLS getting an even $25m each from ESPN and Fox.

Back to the $110m for Euros. That's a six-year deal so it works out to be about 18m per year. Obviously, getting the Euro 2020 (played this year) is the tent pole event, but the Nations League games do ok in their own right. A best-guess estimate... I'd say half of that $110 million is for EURO 2020. We'll round out to $50m.

With that, we can conclude that both Fox and ESPN pay the same combined amount as ESPN alone pays for this year's Euro 2020 = $50 million.

If Euro 2020 continues at its pace of 900k viewers per game it will get close to 50 million viewers total (English language). Compare that to a combined total of 16 million viewers for all 80+ MLS games on cable in 2020.

Total Viewers, 2020
16 million: MLS (80+ games on cable)
45 million: Euro 2020 estimate (51 games)

Even if you add in the games MLS plays on traditional OTA TV it isn't getting close to what the Euro's does in a month of play.

Of course, there are other things to consider when considering what MLS provides to ESPN vs what MLS provides (year-to-year inventory, social metrics, etc). But this gives us an idea of what a slow sort of drip MLS is what is an ever-expanding, ever crowded soccer market in the United States.

No comments: