SBJ/April 9 - 15, 2007/This Weeks News

WMG aligns with swimming, track, gymnastics NGBs

Wasserman Media Group is expected to announce a programming and marketing partnership today with the United Sports Alliance, a consortium of three powerful national governing bodies.

The sports will provide programming for
WMG’s new Sportnet.com.

The joint venture, which extends through 2012, will see USA Swimming, Track & Field and Gymnastics license out their media, event and marketing rights to WMG. In return, the agency will construct a new and stand-alone Web site for each and handle all of their sponsorship sales.

The partnership marks the first time one agency will handle sales for three NGBs in the marketplace. WMG will sell sponsorship packages for the NGBs for TV and digital media, events, hospitality and promotions. Sponsors will be able to support each NGB individually or invest in all three.

Though the governing bodies will continue to service existing partners and handle all renewals, WMG will guarantee that its sales efforts meet each NGB’s pre-existing sponsorship sales and also a percentage beyond that number, industry sources said.

For example, the most recent tax filing for USA Track & Field showed that it generated $4.3 million in event and program sponsorship in 2005. Under the agreement, WMG would be responsible for meeting that number plus an additional 1 to 10 percent depending on the NGB’s history, sources said.

The agency also will finance and develop a Web site for each NGB. WMG will cover the costs of those sites and its sales efforts by recouping around 20 percent of the revenue the partnership generates, industry sources said.

The agreement is the culmination of the NGBs’ yearlong search for a digital partner. That search coincided with WMG’s search for programming for its new portal, Sportnet.com. The site, which is being tested, will connect visitors to athlete and sports sites such as motocross.com.

“Action sports was a great place to start because we had a great deal of relationships there,” said Casey Wasserman, WMG’s chairman and CEO. “The NGBs is the next step, and you’ll see more diversification in the future.”

Once the NGBs’ new sites are developed, each will be linked to Sportnet, but the NGBs will continue to operate and maintain their current respective sites.

The NGBs’ existing broadcast partnerships with networks such as NBC and ESPN will be honored, but in the future, WMG and the NGBs will collaborate to determine whether events are broadcast online or TV.

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