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HCR Law Events

16 January 2024

The dynamic landscape of M&A in the sports industry: a glimpse into 2024

The global sports industry has seen tremendous growth and evolution over the years, and 2024 is poised to be no different. As the industry continues to expand and adapt to changing consumer behaviours and technological advancements, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are expected to shape the landscape. In this article, we will explore the key trends and potential M&A activities that could reshape the sports industry in the near future.

One of the significant drivers of M&A activity in the sports industry is the ever-increasing value of broadcasting rights. Media powerhouses, such as traditional broadcasters and digital streaming platforms, will continue to compete for securing exclusive rights to major sports events and leagues.

This fierce competition might lead to consolidation as companies seek to strengthen their positions through acquiring regional broadcasters or streaming services. We anticipate strategic partnerships, joint ventures, and mergers between media giants to satisfy the insatiable demand for live sports content.

The sports industry has become increasingly global, with major leagues and organisations looking to expand their reach in different regions. M&A activities will play a vital role in facilitating these expansions. For instance, European football clubs might seek partnerships or acquisitions with clubs in emerging markets like China, India, or the Middle East to tap into the immense commercial potential in those areas and expand their fan base. Such partnerships can also help create global networks for player development and talent scouting.

Technological advancements are revolutionising the sports industry, creating new business opportunities and driving M&A activities. For example, esports – multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators – has seen explosive growth and will continue to attract investment and acquisitions.

Traditional sports organisations and broadcasters may strategically acquire esports companies or form partnerships to capitalise on this lucrative market. Additionally, advancements in virtual and augmented reality, data analytics, and fan engagement platforms will likely lead to collaborations and acquisitions to enhance the overall sports viewing experience.

Sports and gambling

The convergence of sports and gambling holds immense potential for M&A activities in the coming years. With the relaxation of regulations surrounding sports betting in various jurisdictions, betting companies are keenly eyeing-up M&A opportunities to expand their offerings and gain a competitive edge.

Sports leagues and teams may explore partnerships or acquisitions with gambling operators to leverage their expertise and improve fan engagement through in-game betting and interactive experiences.

Niche markets and looking ahead

Smaller niche sports and emerging markets present attractive opportunities for M&A activities. Recently, we have seen growing interest in sports like cricket, rugby, and MMA. Established organisations may acquire or form alliances with smaller sports entities to diversify their content offerings and appeal to a broader audience. This can lead to the growth of niche sports and boost investment in their infrastructure, talent development, and broadcasting capabilities.

The sports industry in 2024 will witness a landscape shaped by M&A activities driven by media rights competition, global expansion plans, technological innovations, the convergence of sports and gambling, and the rise of niche sports and emerging markets.

These strategic moves will not only redefine the industry but also allow stakeholders to adapt to changing consumer preferences and unlock new revenue streams. As we eagerly await the future, one thing is certain: M&A in the sports industry will play a pivotal role in shaping its dynamic and ever-evolving landscape.

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About the Author
Dr. Saverio Salandra, Partner, Corporate and International Teams

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