Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Governance & Commercial Growth, Partnerships, Sport Business | Aug 19, 2020 | 8 min read

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

By James Emmett


Thanks for clicking through to another edition of the Leaders Digest, a weekly newsletter that tracks the most impactful developments, and highlights the most interesting pieces from across the global sports industry.


6  Questions, Answered

1.) Has anyone really got the hang of remote production yet? 


2.) Is this the shape of things to come?
I know Seattle is Amazon territory, but this new exclusive streaming rights deal with the Sounders (combined with an earlier, similar agreement with the Yankees) suggests to me that regional and team-specific might be the way Prime Video is going in sport.


3.) Is this also the shape of things to come?
The LFP has been quietly working alongside central and regional French authorities to bring Ligue 1 football back in front of live audiences this coming week. Crowds of up to 5,000 are to be allowed in some venues when the league kicks off this weekend, but the opener, Friday night’s game between Marseille and St Etienne, has now been postponed after four Marseille players tested positive. This feels like it might be the future (at least for a while).


4.) What can you tell me about the business of being badass?
Not a great deal. But I know someone who can. Bozoma Saint John is a phenom; an executive powerhouse who has held leading marketing roles at Pepsi, Apple, Uber, Endeavor, before becoming CMO of Netflix earlier this month. We talk imposter syndrome, showing up, the job of the marketer and what it means to lead in the age of Corona for the latest Leaders Sport Business Podcast.


5.) What’s the easiest way to win money in the next few minutes?
Just fill out this short survey for us. It’s open for two more days. We’ll give one of you £200 in Amazon vouchers. And we’ll give everyone else the benefit of a revamped digital offering off the back of it. The very definition of a win win.


6.) Does anyone understand the beef between Barstool’s Dave Portnoy and erstwhile HBO Sports President Peter Nelson?
Nelson has left HBO Sports and Portnoy has seemingly responded with some ungracious videos. Is the media executive merry-go-round just another battleground for boxing trash talk now?


The Digest, Digested

76ers, Devils owners pledge $20m to fight systemic racism, promote equality (1 min)

Rajasthan Royals: Sanitary towel firm sponsors IPL side (1 min)

Spotify launches Daily Sports playlist (1 min)

Chelsea seek to monetise coaching expertise with Perfect Play platform (2 mins)

NBA and Turner tap LiveLike for virtual playoff ‘watch parties’ (1 min)

Monumental furloughs more than a third of full time staff (1 min)

More powerful agents exit CAA (1 min)

Michael Rubin’s Fanatics closes $350m funding round, catapulting valuation to $6.2bn (2 mins)

NBA and Facebook’s Oculus sign landmark VR marketing deal (2 mins)

Tencent takes minority stake in French mobile games maker Voodoo (2 mins)

Sportradar said to win NHL gambling data rights (2 mins)

Now what? Five scenarios for the post-coronavirus sports industry (25 mins)


What’s new?

–    Moving from symbolism to action on equityHBSE is putting its money where its mouth is on the promotion of equity and equality in communities, pledging $20 million to various organisations in the fight against systemic racism.

–    Sanitary towel sponsorship in men’s sport – The Rajasthan Royals and Niine deserve praise for this new partnership.

–    Spotify’s sports playlists – the audio streamer is rolling out mixed media sports playlists for US customers.

–    Monetising the performance team – Chelsea’s digital enterprise group, Chelsea Digital Ventures, has rolled out a coaching app that aims to monetise the expertise of the Premier League club’s academy coaches. The premium tier of the Perfect Play app is priced at £9.99 a month.


What’s trending?

–    Watch parties – Communal digital viewing experiences are getting slicker; the NBA and Turner will use LiveLike to power theirs for the upcoming playoffs.

–    Organisational remoulding – we all knew it was coming, but the reshaping of some of sport’s biggest entities is now gathering some steam. There have been layoffs at Arsenal, and at MSG, and comprehensive and indefinite new rounds of furloughing at Monumental Sports & Entertainment and the Sacramento Kings. Meanwhile the exodus at CAA continues; with 90 agents already having been laid off, senior figures Lowell Taub and Lis Moss have now left too.




–    Jason Wright has been appointed as the President of the Washington NFL team. The former player becomes the first Black President of an NFL team, and, at 38, the youngest person to hold that position.
–    Former Olympique de Marseille Head of Partnerships Pascal Lafitte will become the new Head of Team Partnerships, Commercial and Marketing for sportswear brand Castore. Lafitte will begin the new role in October.
–    Shawn Tilger has been appointed as President of the newly named GF Sports & Entertainment. He previously served as a senior advisor to GF Sports, the firm’s previous iteration.
–    Simon Li has left his position as in global partnerships at Liverpool for a new role as Commercial Director for South East Asia, Japan, Korea and Australia for LaLiga.
–    Maryann Turcke, the highest-ranking woman at the NFL, will step down from her position as COO for a new role as Executive Advisor to the Commissioner at the end of August.




Funding round values Fanatics at $6.2bn
Online sports apparel retailer Fanatics has closed on a $350 million round of funding that values the company at $6.2 billion, up from its $4.5 billion valuation following investment from Softbank in 2017. This round of funding is likely to be its last before an IPO.

Oculus signs first major sponsorship
Facebook has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the NBA that will see its Oculus brand promoted, in the first instance, at the league’s bubble set-up and during playoff telecasts. It’s the first major branding partnership that Facebook’s VR company has signed with a major sports league.

Tencent makes European games investment
Tencent has moved to tighten its grip on the global gaming ecosystem by taking a minority stake in French mobile games company Voodoo. The new investment from China gives Voodoo an enterprise value of $1.4 billion.

NHL deal to round out Sportradar’s portfolio
Sportradar has been selected to provide gambling data distribution services to the NHL in a ten-year contract that could be worth more than $250 million. Once the contract is signed, Sportradar will hold gambling data rights for all four major leagues.


Longer read

–  Eoin Connolly has unclothed his crystal ball and has let the light refract through it. His five scenarios for the future of sport are all characteristically thoughtful. Bookmark and return to it in sittings.


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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