SBJ/July 1-7, 2013/Media

Breeders’ Cup partners with Russo to develop digital initiatives

The Breeders’ Cup has partnered with Chris Russo’s CR Media Ventures to develop digital initiatives for horse racing’s annual championship, starting with a fantasy game aimed at drawing in new fans for this year’s two-day event.

Neither Breeders’ Cup CMO Drew Sheinman nor Russo would reveal the financial agreement between the companies, but Russo did say he would have an “advisory role” with the Breeders’ Cup in helping to build its digital properties, including fantasy games, social media and second-screen applications.

“Nobody knows fantasy sports better than Chris,” said Sheinman, who was hired as Breeders’ Cup CMO in May after years of working as a marketing executive for sports properties and major brands. “We are partnering with best of class. It’s part of our growth strategy.”

Russo said the Breeders’ Cup is the first major sports property he has worked with since he sold Big Lead Sports to Gannett in January 2012. Russo is also a former NFL senior vice president of new media.

“My perspective is you have a very exciting sport where digital media can be very important in driving new fans and the revenue streams that flow from that,” Russo said, adding that future revenue could come from sponsorship and online pay products as well as increased attendance and viewership.

Russo’s first project is the fantasy game, which is set to launch in mid-July. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area.

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