Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Governance & Commercial Growth, Partnerships, Sport Business | Aug 13, 2020 | 8 min read

Charting the money, the moves, and the media across the global business of sport

By James Emmett


Hello everyone, and thank you for clicking through to another edition of the Leaders Digest, your screen-grabbable guide to what’s happening and why across the global business of sport.


5  Questions, Answered

1.) Are there more jobs in this newsletter of late?

I’m making a conscious effort to seek out interesting openings across the sports industry during these straitened times. Data and analytics seem to remain fertile territory but my two picks of the week are from the NFL and Sky Sports, which are recruiting for a Media Strategy & Business Development Director and Director of Content respectively.


2.) What’s going on with the pure play sports streamers?

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Simon Denyer has stepped down from the position of CEO comes the news that DAZN has undertaken a full-scale cabinet reshuffle that should provide new CEO James Rushton with the team he needs to focus squarely on ‘customer experience, international expansion, and non-live content’. Eleven Sports, meanwhile, has marked its fifth anniversary with a rebrand and a recalibration, rolling out a new strategy that will focus on becoming a global platform by exploiting second and third tier rights, women’s sports and esports. For a fortnightly hit of the good, the bad, and the ugly across sports media – plus exclusive invitations to peer-to-peer meetings – you’d do well to sign up to our Broadcast Disruptors Bulletin mailing list.


3.) Any more books to recommend?

There aren’t enough sports industry memoirs as far as I’m concerned. Kudos to Atlanta Hawks’ CMO Melissa Proctor for getting this done.


4.) How is the NBA’s virtual Teams fan experience working in practice?

Here’s how.


5.) Why are there not more sponsorship activations that look like this?

Honestly, I have no idea. We all loved the mini Minis retrieving shot puts at London 2012, and we all love a golf buggy with a Star Wars ship for a roof on a football pitch.


The Digest, Digested

Premier League in Chinese TV rights standoff as PPTV withholds £160m payment (2 mins)

IPL: China’s Vivo dropped as cricket tournament sponsor (2 mins)

Yankees, TikTok sign sponsorship deal as Trump seeks ban (2 mins)

Podcast: TikTok’s Harish Sarma (51 mins)

Tencent to create $10 billion esports streaming giant with merger of DouYu and Huya (1 min)

AC Milan Women secure Banco PBM as first shirt sponsor (2 mins)

Podcast: Outgoing British Cycling CEO Julie Harrington (47 mins)

Formula 1 Q2 revenues down nearly $600m due to Covid-19 (2 mins)

AS Roma sold to US billionaire Dan Friedkin for €591m (2 mins)

Epic Games raises a $1.8bn funding at a post-money equity valuation of $17.3bn (2 mins)

Real Madrid Next and FundingBox establish agreement over start-up investments (1 min)

Podcast: Seb Coe vs Phil Knight (38 mins)

The rise of athlete podcasters as the next billion dollar brand builders (6 mins)

Moore, Hogan and the ever-evolving role of Liverpool CEO (12 mins)


What’s trending?

–    Sports and media ramifications to China’s political beefs – More proof, as if it were needed, that sport and politics are very definitely linked: Exhibit A) the Premier League is reportedly locked in a legal dispute with its Chinese broadcast partner PPTV over a rights payment of £160 million that’s been withheld partly due to UK-China political tension; B) The BCCI has dropped Vivo as the title sponsor of the IPL and is under political pressure to terminate more contracts with Chinese companies; C) President Trump’s executive order banning transactions with WeChat and TikTok parent companies Tencent and ByteDance will have huge ramifications. TikTok is not taking it lying down. As discussions over a quickfire sale to Microsoft or Twitter (and potentially others) continue, TikTok has signed a $10 million sponsorship deal with the New York Yankees. And here’s ByteDance’s former NBA exec Harish Sarma laying out the why, when, and crucially the how for sports entities who want to do well out of TikTok. Meanwhile Tencent has moved to cement its dominance in gaming, by moving to merge two of China’s biggest streaming platforms.

–   Unbundling – AC Milan are the latest football club to unfold its women’s entity from within the men’s set-up, and to sign a separate, standalone sponsor in the process.

   A new generation of Mr Motivators – the pandemic has brought about an explosion in fitness, health and wellness content for home workouts and practice. Facebook are running a summit on how to build a DIY business around the new trend next week.




–    Julie Harrington will leave her role as CEO of British Cycling to replace Nick Rust as the CEO of the British Horseracing Authority in January. Harrington sat down to discuss her career path on the Leaders Sport Business podcast earlier this year.
–    Tony Petitti has left his role as Deputy Commissioner at MLB to take the newly created job of President of Sports & Entertainment at Activision Blizzard.
–    Former Co-Head of Television at CAA Nick Khan has started a new role at WWE as President & Chief Revenue Officer.
–    Victor Williams has been appointed as the next CEO of NBA Africa, and will start in the role next week.
–    Ivo Hrstic has been hired as Head of Broadcast Content at Bundesliga subsidiary DFL Digital Sports.
–    Dr Maurice Stinnett has left his role as VP of Diversity, Inclusion and Culture for a new job as Head of Global Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Warner Music Group.
–    SPORF founder Nick Speakman has been appointed as Manchester United’s Global Head of Social Media.




F1 dip

Liberty Media’s latest set of financials for F1 paint a fairly grim picture, with the global motorsport series down almost $600 million year-on-year for Q2 revenue.


AS Roma switches American ownership

After a few months of will they, won’t they, Texas billionaire Daniel Friedkin and AS Roma President Jim Pallotta have agreed on a sale of the Italian football club. The deal had stalled with Covid-19, but a revised sale price of €591 million – down from €750 million – was eventually set and an announcement made last week.


Another Epic round of funding

Fortnite developer Epic Games has announced another whopping round of funding, with a new $1.78 billion corporate venture round valuing the organisation at $17.3 billion, up on its 2018 valuation of $15 billion.


Real Madrid finds funds for start-ups

Real Madrid Next, the Spanish football club’s innovation programme, has announced a collaboration with FundingBox that will see the pair provide up to €9 million in funding for start-up projects.


Longer reads

–    I thought World Athletics President Seb Coe’s new IOC membership – and consequent new ‘back seat’ role at the CSM agency where he’s been Executive Chairman – would put a stop to his new podcast, Extraordinary Tales in Extraordinary Times, before it had really got started. But after listening to the latest episode – a conversation between Coe and the nowadays lesser-spotted Nike founder Phil Knight – I’m very glad it hasn’t. It’s a revealing listen that covers Nike’s transition from product company to marketing company, the Michael Jordan relationship, and Knight’s lightbulb social conscience moment with LeBron James among many other things.

–    Here’s a good, if strangely multi-font-sized skip through the current surge in athlete podcasting and why it’s trending up.

–    Peter Moore and Billy Hogan, the present and the future of the leadership at Premier League champions – and the foundations put in place by Rick Parry, Christian Purslow, and Ian Ayre; a typically comprehensive piece in the Athletic.


Thanks for reading this edition of the Leaders Digest. We’ll have another for you next Wednesday; and if you haven’t subscribed yet, do remember to opt-in here.

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