Year 2018: Top 10 Global Sports Business Deals

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If sport stars hogged limelight for their performances in the middle, the business of sports created headlines for deals worth billions of dollars – some awe-aspiring values and some shifting loyalties.

Media rights were to the forefront with Sky Sports and BT Sports creating a record for the $5.65 bn commitment to retain Premier League broadcast and Star India committing an whopping ₹6,138 crores for the consolidated broadcast properties of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Roger Federer made headlines for breaking his life-time tie-up with Nike for an offer from the Japanese brand Uniqlo, while Indian Premier League franchisee Delhi Daredevils’ owners GMR Sports passed on their 50% stake to JSW Sports.

Here are the top ten Sports Business deals in order of their impact during the year along with the Juventus-adidas contract revision late last week, which came as a perfect icing on the cake.


In the biggest media rights deal of the year, Sky Sports & BT Sport yet again snapped up the domestic broadcast rights for the Premier League. The rights to the lead packages for three seasons were bought for ₹39,700 crores – a whopping ₹13,233 crores per season –£ 4.464 billion ($5.65 bn). The two rival networks acquired five of the seven live rights packages under the agreement.


Indian Premier League last year was in news for the ₹16,347.50 crore media rights bid from Star Sports, in 2018 cricket world’s richest professional entity made headlines for JSW Sports acquisition of Delhi Daredevils 50% equity stake from GMR Sports. The deal was reportedly inked for total valuation of ₹1,100 crores ($169 Million). This ensured the GMR Sports, the Delhi Daredevils founder owners, recoup their investments and still retaining 50% stake in the IPL franchisee.


The US billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist David Tepper acquired NFL team Carolina Panthers in a record $2.2 billion deal. This is the highest ever price paid to an NFL franchise and also among the highest ever deals for a professional sports team around the world. The deal has overshadowed NFL’s earlier record of the $800 million agreement for Pegula family’s commitment to buy Buffalo Bills in 2014.


Star India further created leadership position for itself with the acquisition of the Board of Control for Cricket in India media rights. In the first ever live e-auction for sports media rights, Star India outbid Sony Picture Network challenge with the successful consolidated bid of ₹6,138 crores to acquire all the BCCI media rights for a five-year cycle (2018-2023). Star India now holdsbroadcast rights for cricket’s most premium properties, including the Indian Premier League and the International Cricket Council.

Sports Business Deal No. 5: ESPN-UFC DEAL

In a major fillip to UFC in year 2018, the Ultimate Fighting Championship signed the biggest ever television rights deal in the MMA history with the Walt Disney-owned broadcaster ESPN. The whooping $1.5 billion five-year deal will bring the Mixed Martial Arts league’s entire rights package to ESPN from 2019. The deal consists of 30 UFC Fight Night events per year, including 10 main cards on ESPN’s television networks. The other 20 will stream on ESPN+, the company’s newly launched streaming service. Additionally, ESPN networks will air preliminary bouts prior to 12 pay-per-view events in 2019.

Sports Business Deal No. 6: DAZN – Canelo Alvarez historic deal 

The year 2018 saw one of the biggest deals for any individual athlete. Perform Group-owned sports streaming service DAZN and champion boxer Canelo Alvarez signed a record five-year, 11-bout deal worth a minimum $365 million.

The deal makes the Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions camp boxer, Alvarez the highest paid athlete in the world. “Canelo is the highest-paid athlete in the world. He’s extremely happy,” De La Hoya had told ESPN after the Alvarez signing with DAZN.
Alvarez’s deal betters the global record created by the New York Yankees 13-year, $325 million deal with star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in 2014.

Sports Business Deal No. 7: DISCOVERY-PGA TOUR DEAL

The world of Golf became testimony to the biggest ever media deal in 2018. US media giant Discovery paid an astronomical figure of$2 Billion (₹14,000 crores) for international rights to the PGA Tour. A key term of the deal was the development of a Netflix-style video service to house the annual 2,000 hours of coverage. On the back of the deal Discovery launched Golf TV, a first-of-its-kind live and on-demand international video streaming service,

Sports Business Deal No. 8: ROGER FEDERER – UNIQLO DEAL

If one sports business deal created major headlines in the world of sport in 2018, that was tennis superstar Roger Federer deciding to switch courts from Nike to Uniqlo.
As the Wimbledon Championships got underway in SW19, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer stunned the business world  when he walked onto the centre court wearing Japanese brand Uniqlo outfit. The Swiss, who had been one of the most prominentfaces of Nike since signing with the Oregon-based company, was tempted out of his career-long association with the USmanufacturer for the ten-year offer from Uniqlo. The deal is reported to be worth $300 million.

Sports Business Deal No. 9: ARSENAL-ADIDAS DEAL

Premier League teams kept signing record deals with global brands. But Arsenal got the best of them all. The Gunners signed record$380 million, five-year kit sponsorship deal with adidas. The deal ended Arsenal‘s five-year association with adidas’ German rivalsPuma. The deal with adidas gives Arsenal almost 100% raise on the Puma contract signed in 2014. The deal marked adidas’ return to the Arsenal camp after almost three decades – the English football giants and leading German sports brand were last seen together in year 1990.

The Arsenal-adidas deal is the 3rd biggest kit sponsorship tie-up in the Premier League history. Manchester United’s 96$ Million & Chelsea’s $78 Million contract takes first two positions.

Sports Business Deal No. 10: ALIPAU-UEFA DEAL

In one of the biggest sports sponsorship deals of the season, UEFA agreed to an eight-year, ₹1 1,750 crore ($200 mn) contract with Chinese e-payment giant Alipay. Alipay through this deal will be UEFA men’s national team football sponsors from 2018 until 2026, including UEFA EURO 2020 and 2024 and the UEFA Nations League finals.

Icing on the cake
As the year was coming to an end and the top of top lists in the sports words were coming to a close, Juventus and adidas came up with the modification of their existing deal to provide a perfect icing on the cake for the leading sports business deals of the year. In the last fortnight of the year, Juventus and adidas confirmed the modification of their partnership. The extended contract, to run till 2027, will bring to the Italian Serie A champions club a minimum of $468 million over eight years.