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  • U.S. SOCCER LOOKS TO CAPITALIZE ON WORLD CUP -- AGAIN

              The U.S. Soccer Federation, IMG and Nike are examining
         ways to increase interest in the U.S. National soccer team
         after the World Cup, according to USA TODAY's Michael
         Hiestand.  The three organizations are looking to boost
         awareness of TV games "outside the Cup," which have
         traditionally drawn low ratings.  TWI Senior VP Bruce
         Horowitz, the arm of IMG which will produce and sell the
         U.S. team games, has said "there's no rhyme or reason"
         behind the scheduling of non-Cup games, adding, "they just
         appear."  Horowitz proposes to create games that "mean
         something," with matches played in the first three months of
         the year and sponsors putting up "prize money to create
         matches where players are more motivated."  With ABC's TV
         rights to the U.S. team expiring this year, U.S. Soccer "has
         a long wish list" for its next partner, including a cable TV
         package for its women's team and the addition of virtual
         signage.  U.S. Soccer may also insert 15-second TV spots
         during "natural breaks in game play" to allow for more
         advertising.  Also under examination is whether U.S. games
         carried by Spanish-language TV networks are hurting the
         broadcast network numbers.  For its part, Nike, which has a
         10-year deal with U.S. Soccer worth about $120M, and is
         spending about $30-40M on its World Cup sponsorship, is
         looking to sponsor a TV show "meant to sell soccer stars to
         kids" (Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, 6/2).
              WORLD CUP NOTES: Nike has designed a soccer-based theme
         park at the Parc de la Defense in downtown Paris (Michael
         Grange, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/2)....Canadian officials
         expect the World Cup to increase sales of sports-lottery
         tickets in that country.  In '94, the World Cup drew more
         than C$3.1M in betting action for 52 games on Ottawa's Pro
         Line betting sheets.  That marked an average of C$59,707 a
         game, which is "only lower" than the C$100,006 per NFL game
         betting average and the $89,171 per NHL game average
         (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/2)....In France, striking pilots
         have "grounded" Air France, "threatening disruptions" during
         the World Cup.  In Paris, Barry James writes that the strike
         has "jeopardized France's attempt to use the World Cup to
         project an image of modernity ... and elegance."  Air France
         had "pledged to provide 150 special flights during the first
         round of the Cup (INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 6/2).
              BRAZIL'S HERO: Brazilian star Ronaldo is profiled in
         DETAILS by Po Bronson under the header, "Ronaldo: The
         Phenomenon."  Ronaldo has his own Nike clothing line as part
         of an endorsement deal rumored to be worth "at least" $25M
         over ten years, "by far the most of any soccer player"
         (DETAILS, 6/98).  In Miami, Michelle Kaufman profiles
         potential break-through stars playing in the World Cup. 
         Kaufman: "Who will emerge as stars this summer?  The
         likeliest candidate is Ronaldo" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/2). 
    
    

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