Premier League football could go D2C in Asia at some point in the coming years, according to Richard Masters, CEO of one of the world’s most lucrative sports leagues.
Speaking at APOS 2022 yesterday, Masters said there are “narrow opportunities in Asia to go D2C if we choose to do so,” although current broadcasting contracts, which were recently renewed, will have to elapse, taking at least three years.
Masters said these D2C conversations were happening in the region prior to the pandemic “as an experiment.”
“Four years ago we were talking about the prospect of the Premier League going D2C in certain markets but the pandemic changed everyone’s plans and we are now contracted for three years in some places and six in many,” he added. “It’s going to be a long journey but you will see sports rights holders skilling up, understanding how to build relationships. We must build on expertise.”
Streamers are also having an impact on the market in Asia, with many now holding rights across the nation including Disney+ Hotstar in India.
Masters views a “mix of pay-TV operators and streamers” as the future broadcasters of the Premier League in the continent.
He stressed the immense popularity of the Premier League in Asia, with 30% of the general population interested to some level in the league. “That’s extraordinary and we’re never complacent,” he added. Meanwhile, “extraordinary” growth has taken place in the U.S., where nearly half of interest has come in the past two years, helped by coverage on NBC.
In Asia, Masters recently oversaw the opening of an office in Singapore, the Premier League’s first outside of the UK. This office is focused on overseeing the sport in the region, along with piracy.
On the latter, Masters said: “We have put many people behind bars and stopped many illegal streams. We need to work with local police and regulators to help with this and are trying to educate fans. At the end of the day, piracy becomes bad for the club they support and the sport they love.”