SBD/Issue 144/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Armato Lays Out Plan To Market AVP To Corporate America

Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) CEO Leonard Armato has inked a deal with NBC Sports to broadcast two AVP events live in August, according to Gerry Khermouch of BUSINESSWEEK, who notes the seven-event season starts in late May. Armato also has a "commitment from Fox Sports to televise several tape-delayed" tournaments. Armato is "also landing blue-chip sponsors at about" $1M apiece — A-B's Michelob Light, PepsiCo's Gatorade and Microsoft's Xbox. Khermouch: "Next up: a possible deal with Nissan. Armato claims an agreement with an auto maker is imminent, and sports-marketing sources say the likeliest candidate is Nissan." Nissan VP/Marketing Steven Wilhite said, "I like the property, opportunity, and people." Khermouch writes that the "big question is whether Armato can turn the AVP into a reliable marketing vehicle for Corporate America." Armato is "requiring players to sign contracts precluding them from cutting the sort of side deals with rival brands that infuriated past sponsors like Miller Lite." Thus far, "most players have gone along, if sometimes grudgingly." Khermouch: "Still, most commitments remain modest and short-term. Gatorade and Microsoft have one-year deals. NBC is airing just the two events, at a time of year when it has to scramble to fill a sports-programming void." But with "more titillation in sports than ever, ... beach volleyball does seem well positioned." Armato: "It's an incredibly sexy sport" (BUSINESSWEEK, 4/22 issue). In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports Xbox' AVP deal is in the high six-figures and includes ads on NBC's two events as well as spots on FSN's telecasts (SBJ, 4/15).

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