FIFA World Cup broadcasting rights fees keep soaring 高騰するW杯テレビ放映権料


At one point earlier this year, it looked as though no one in Japan could watch live broadcasts of FIFA World Cup matches in Brazil. That possibility had loomed because of the surging TV broadcasting rights fees.



  FIFA has for years commissioned advertising agency Dentsu Inc. to market the broadcasting rights for all World Cup games in Japan. Dentsu’s negotiating partner has been the Japan Consortium (JC), which is made up of NHK and commercial broadcasting stations. This time around, however, SKY Perfect JSAT Corp., a satellite broadcasting company and one of JC’s members, decided to withdraw from the contract negotiations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup games. The reason it cited was the rights fees, which it found too high. The decision seemed to create a situation where no agreement could be made, leaving Japanese unable to watch any of the 64 games to be played in Brazil.



  The worst-case scenario was averted as the remaining members of JC finally agreed to share the cost. However, the episode suggested that the rights fees will keep soaring amid the growing number of viewers in emerging countries, bringing about a situation where no FIFA games are broadcast alive in Japan in the future.



  The upsurge of broadcasting rights fees began across Europe in 1984 when French pay television channel Canal+ made arrangements to broadcast the games of France’s Ligue 1, England’s Premier League and Italy’s Serie A. This sent the fees for World Cup matches skyrocketing, too. The cost of broadcasting rights was an equivalent of 600 million yen when the 1998 World Cup was held in France. It rose to 6.5 billion yen in 2002 (Japan-South Korea), 16 billion in 2004 (Germany) and 24 billion yen in 2010 (South Africa), an exorbitant 40 fold jump in only 12 years.



Photo by Jiji Press Photo
Photo by Jiji Press Photo

  This brought serious drawbacks both to those who pay and those who receive money. One European pay TV station, forced to pay an enormous amount of money to broadcast the league and club cup matches, had to raise its subscription fees for viewers to make up for the extra cost. As a result, it lost many of its subscribers. International Sport and Leisure (ISL), a Swiss sports marketing company that had exclusively managed FIFA’s World Cup broadcasting rights went bankrupted in 2001 amid the exodus of TV viewers. This touched off a downward spiral of rights fees across Europe. Some soccer clubs which heavily depended on rights fees were forced to put off payment of contract money to players and salaries to the staff.

放映権料の高騰は、支払う側、受け取る側双方に深刻な問題をもたらした。欧州の有料放送局は、クラブチームの試合やカップ戦の中継に多額の出費を強いられ、これを補うために視聴者との契約料を値上げ。その結果、少なからぬ契約視聴者を失った。サッカー中継離れの中で、FIFAワールドカップの放映権料などを一括管理していたスイスのスポーツ・マーケッティング会社ISL(International Sports and Leisure)は2001年倒産に追い込まれた。これをきっかけに、欧州各国で放映権料が暴落、放映権料に収入の多くを依存していた一部クラブでは、選手やスタッフへの給料未払いなどを余儀なくされた。



  However, the rights fees for the FIFA World Cup matches have kept rising even after such problems. This is obviously because the World Cup is one of the biggest events that continue to draw more and more TV audiences. It’s time FIFA and other stakeholders took some measures to stem the unreasonable surge of the rights fees so that World Cup games will retain their global popularity and many people can enjoy their charm on TV.



(Written by: Takaaki Araki)


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