Coronavirus ‘no harm’ to the media rights industry long-term, says Kojic
By Susan Lingeswaran
Sascha Kojic, co-founder of online media-rights trading platform Content Arena, has insisted the current coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the suspension of live sport around the world, will have no lasting effect on the media rights industry long-term.
Over the past few weeks, the majority of sporting competitions have either been cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, sending ripples throughout the media rights industry.
Broadcasters that pay billions for the right to live sports to fill schedules, attract viewers and sell advertising have been left struggling to fill their programming slots, while sports right-owners face losing commercial revenue with every cancellation.
Speaking to Sportcal from his home in Munich, Kojic (pictured) said if the situation is resolved quickly, the rights market will return to normal with no lasting damage.
He said: “In Germany, the experts have said we will see the first signs of normalisation after Easter. If it is so and the situation turns out to be a very short term disaster for all of us, I think everyone will go back to normal afterwards and nothing will change.
“If you look at the business model, most of the big rights buyers are platforms these days, and the platforms haven’t really given any deductions on the monthly subscription fees. What you can see is Sky [in Germany] and other big platforms opening up their premium packages for free to please their clients, which doesn’t cost them a dollar to do - they just push the button and make the subscribers happy.
“I don’t agree with the analysts who now say this is a big chance for esports and now esports will become the new live sports premium property, the rights holders will go back to focusing on traditional sports.”
Kojic added platforms reliant solely on live sports, like over-the-top offering DAZN, would be affected the most in the current situation but would also see the fastest uplift in subscribers once the suspensions are lifted.
DAZN is set to launch its service in more than 200 countries in May.
He said: “On the organisers' rights, if you take a look at the International Olympic Committee and Uefa postponing their events to next year, this will obviously cost money but it will not hit them existentially and will not affect what they do generally.
“Overall, it’s an unpleasant situation, one which will cost a lot of money, but nothing too significant in the long run.”
Founded in 2017, Content Arena is largely focused on small-to mid-tier sports properties and takes a percentage commission from its rights-seller of the value of any deal facilitated, without charging the buyer.
It also offers the automated creation of legal documents, rights portfolio management and technical content distribution.
Last year, it counted more than 200 registered companies and over 300 registered users.
The likes of Lagadere Sports, Sky Deutschland, EHF Marketing, the marketing arm of the European Handball Federation, Sportradar, Red Bull Media House and BeIN Sports are known users.
Last week, it moved to promote its archive of non-live multi-sports content for sale, making a wide range of documentary, highlights and archive footage available from rights-holders subscribed to the platform as a way to provide alternative revenue streams.
The sports currently covered include motorsports, boxing, sailing, and outdoor and winter sports, with more content expected to be added.
Kojic said since the promotion, registrations to Content Arena had increased dramatically, with broadcaster and rights holders’ eager to use the platform.
He continued: “What we are seeing is many broadcasters are really struggling to build their schedules with fresh content and after the promotion we have had an unbelievable run of new registrations with people looking for ways to acquire content and to be fair, on the platform it’s not the super-premium content but we do have quality content available.
“The interest is across the board - it’s a lot of motorsports and fight content that has been sought from the platform. The higher the quality, the higher the interest, but in terms of sport, there is high interest in everything.”
Last year, John Gleasure, the chief business development officer at DAZN, invested in Content Arena, becoming a strategic advisory, along with Alexander Fryba, managing director of innovation at Sportradar, the international sports data and digital content company.
Kojic said in the midst of the crisis, Content Arena was one of the few winners, which will help them grow the business in the future.
He added: “We were really fighting hard to get Content Arena out there in the market and to make people use it because it’s something totally new and people are not used to an online based tool to buy rights or inform themselves of what’s available, what they can buy and for what price, but during this crisis where people cannot travel it becomes very useful especially because its not expensive.
“In a way you could say that the crisis has helped us get closer to the tipping point where this becomes a very commonly used tool in the industry to go and acquire content on one hand and also sell content to the market on the other hand.
“We’ve had the Canadian and Australian football leagues, and big motor sports rights holders coming to us and saying they want to offer their content to the market because they see there is big demand but they don’t have the capability to reach out to all the markets, which has been good for us.”