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Regulations and monetization of media rights in esports

Broadcasters and esports event organizers might exploit the lack of rules on media rights in esports during a stage where esports have not reached the bureaucratic complexity of sports.

The possibility of selling several times the same product applies to both sports and esports since rights on games can be sold to both media and stadium attendees. In esports, there is a preference for online streaming over classic TV broadcasting.  But apart from this circumstance, the opportunities to sell media rights across countries worldwide are almost the same.  Furthermore, the same product is still indirectly sold several times through sponsoring and advertising from different countries for the same event.

In  this regard,

  • With classic TV broadcasting, TV rights are sold to TV channels in as many countries as the number interested in the relevant event; while
  • Esports games can still be simulcast across more than one medium or more than one service on the same medium, simultaneously on television networks around the world.

However, media rights on traditional sports events are offered through complex tenders managed by leagues.  Tender rules are set, among others, the medium, the territorial scope, the type of operator that can bid for the rights.  On the contrary, online streaming in esports is largely without constraints in terms of territorial rights and is not managed by a single authority.

Indeed, the esports industry is still in its infancy, and so for the moment, no single body exists to oversee its integrity.  This circumstance might represent an opportunity since the lack of set rules can give room to free negotiations in an environment where some broadcasters have not acknowledged yet the full potentials of the esports market.

On the same topic, you may find interesting the article “Cheating in Esports tournaments and legal arguments for discouraging bad players”. Also, DLA Piper released its 2nd edition of the global guide to esports regulations which now covers 45 jurisdictions which can be found here.

Image credit Richard Ye (yerich)

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Vincenzo Giuffré

Lawyer at DLA Piper IPT Italy, Milan| Gambling and Gaming Sector| eSports, Media, Sports and Entertainment | Bocconi University | University of Minnesota - W. Mondale Law School | Visiting Student at National University of Singapore (NUS)

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