Advances in communications technologies – satellite, cable, broadband and mobile internet – have revolutionized broadcast sports coverage and enabled billions of people around the world to take part in the spectacle and excitement of major sporting events.
Copyright and related rights, particularly those relating to broadcasting organizations, underpin the relationship between sport and television and other media. Television and media organizations pay huge sums of money for the exclusive right to broadcast sporting events live. For example, of the US$3.7 billion in total revenues (excluding ticket sales) generated by the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, two-thirds or US$2.4 billion was derived from the sale of broadcasting rights. The sale of marketing rights brought in another US$1.1 billion, with the remainder accounted for by sale of hospitality rights and licensing.
The sale of broadcasting and media rights is now the biggest source of revenue for most sports organizations, generating the funds needed to finance major sporting events, refurbish sports stadia, and contribute to the development of sport at grassroots level. Of the estimated $1.7 billion paid by broadcasters for exclusive rights to broadcast the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, about half went to the organizing committee for the Games and the other half to the broader Olympic movement, including National Olympic Committees and the international federations for the various Olympic sports.
Meanwhile, the royalties that broadcasters earn from selling their exclusive footage to other media outlets enable them to invest in the costly organizational and technical undertaking involved in broadcasting sports events to millions of fans all over the world. Thus Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, which as host broadcaster for the Beijing Games supplied television signals from all the Olympic venues, deployed 6,000 staff, 1,000 cameras, 575 digital video tape recorders, 350 broadcast trailers and 62 outside broadcast vans.
Television rights are thought to account for about 60% of the income of the Tour de France, which is broadcast in over 180 countries. The English Premier League, whose matches are broadcast in 212 countries, sold domestic and international television rights for the three seasons 2010-2013 for £3.2 billion.
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