The Political Economy of Professional Sport

The Political Economy of Professional Sport

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

This timely book offers a critical interpretation of the traditional social and economic accounts of sport. It provides an incisive analysis of professional sport and defines alternative foundations to the present model. The authors demonstrate that professional sport is an extremely complex phenomenon encompassing many unique factors depending on its global reach, financing and organization.

Chapter 4: What is at stake in the New Economic Relationships between Professional Sport and Television?

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, sports, politics and public policy, political economy


History has shown that sport and television have, for a long time, maintained a mutually interested relationship (Andreff et al., 1987; Bourg and Gouguet, 1998; Fort, 2006; Bolotny and Bourg, 2006). For half a century indeed, sport and television have developed side by side, benefiting from the convergence and complementarity of their interests: sport is a reservoir for programmes and audiences for television, which is in itself a financial reservoir and a vehicle for the promotion of sport. As it is subject both to administrative deregulation (especially in Europe, with the abandonment of the public monopoly of broadcasting) and technological revolution (the emergence of cable, satellite, digital and subscription TV), television can no longer be considered as a pure public good, since the creation of subscription channels and pay-per-view.1 The increase in the number of channels increases the supply of programmes, while the competition they provide for getting broadcasting fees increases the income for sport. Owing to the high level of the broadcasting fees paid by the channels that want to win him or her over, the television viewer has indirectly supplanted the spectator as financier of major world sports events. The world market for television rights was estimated to be €60bn in 2006.2 According to the Carat Sport Agency, sport represented 5 per cent on average of general European terrestrial channels, but 15 per cent of programme costs. Therefore, understanding the financial relationship between sport and television requires linking the sports programmes market and the sports broadcasting rights market....

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