SBJ/Sept. 2-8, 2013/Global Special Issue

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  • Going global: The driving forces of the sports world

    inside this special issue

    A look at the companies, people and trends opening eyes on the global stage.

    BT's sports gamble

    Will major investment in EPL rights pay off with more broadband subscribers?

    sports tech startups

    How these companies could shake up the European sports scene.

    Coke targets sochi

    Olympics could give soft drink brand a bigger share of the Russian market.

    EPL by the numbers

    The television and kit deals behind the global powerhouse.

    breaking barriers

    Three women changing attitudes in sports and society.

    stadiums push the limits

    Groundbreaking designs that will change the way you look at sports venues.

    making analytics cool

    Opta uses its number-crunching skills to build deep relationships in sports.

    well researched

    Repucom continues its global march; what has its attention now?

    10 to watch in italy

    From teams to agencies, how they are making their presence known.

    Game. set. Match.

    Tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi gets props for his upstart agency.

    Viagogo digs in

    Secondary ticketing company maintains growth curve, but not without its critics.

    The rogge years

    IOC President Jacques Rogge prepares to exit; who may take his place.


    Print | Tags: UPS, Europe, Target, Olympics, Russia, By The Numbers, Tennis, IOC
  • BT bets big on sports

    British Telecom executives are making a $1.5 billion bet that they can expand their telephone and broadband businesses by giving away sports TV channels.

    The company surprised the British media establishment in June 2012 by putting forth a massive $383 million per year bid to pick up one of the English Premier League’s television packages. It will produce those games for three new sports channels that launched Aug. 1.

    Marc Watson, CEO of BT's TV Group, is dangling a big carrot in front of consumers: free sports channels and EPL coverage if they buy BT's broadband service.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    And the company plans to give those channels to anyone who buys broadband service from BT — even if they take video from a rival platform.

    “If you’re a customer that takes Sky today and Sky Sports today, but you come to us for broadband, we’ll add our sports channels to your package automatically for free,” said Marc Watson, CEO of BT’s TV Group. “In return for that, we think we’ll get more business in broadband and more business in our telephone business.”

    Before BT made its move to acquire EPL rights, ESPN tried to become a big player in the British market. It took over the EPL rights deal from Setanta and was starting to build a nice business when BT swooped in and picked up the EPL rights package.

    ESPN could not compete with BT’s bid, knowing that BT was depending on revenue from its other businesses to fund it — an ironic role reversal to the U.S. market where ESPN has spent the past decade using dual revenue from carriage fees and advertising to outbid broadcasters.

    Outbid on the EPL, ESPN sold its TV business to BT, licensed its name to one of the channels, and started operating as a digital news and information business.

    “It’s a one-sport country,” ESPN President John Skipper said. “If you don’t have the English Premier League,
    you’re out of business.”

    BT has three sports channels: BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. BT licensed ESPN’s brand for an undetermined length of time. ESPN likely will take its brand back in a couple of years, a source said.

    BT will share EPL rights with British satellite operator BSkyB, which is spending an average of $1.18 billion per year over the next three years for the rights to 116 matches per year.

    Before investing in sports, BT conducted market research that found British consumers would pick a distributor based on the sports programming they provide. “When we speak to customers and ask them what is important when they are choosing their telecoms provider, the first thing they say is that they like bundles — they like to buy products in bundles, with one bill and a single provider,” Watson said. “The second thing they say is that within that bundle, TV is a very important part in choosing where to go. The third thing they say is that within TV, the thing that is more important than anything else is sport.”

    Early numbers look promising. During the company’s first-quarter conference call, BT announced that it had signed 500,000 subscribers to the new sports channels. And just days before the start of the EPL Season, BT reached a deal to make its new sports offering available to customers of Virgin Media, which brought BT about two million households who have Virgin’s XL package.

    Still, some question whether BT’s strategy will work. Only 1 percent of people who use Britain’s free-to-air digital TV service, Freeview, say they are likely to subscribe to BT, according to London-based media analyst Chris Forrester. Sky has responded to BT’s plans with a massive advertising campaign across all media. And on the ad front, limited demand from advertisers has forced BT to offer shorter-term packages.

    BT has used billboards to tout its new sports television service.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    BSkyB has been the dominant pay-TV provider in the United Kingdom since its launch in the early 1990s. It owns both the distribution channel and programming, making it difficult for programmers like ESPN to make inroads in the market. That’s what makes BT’s launch so interesting, as it also owns distribution.

    “This is a game of deep pockets, and indeed the only real gainers are the soccer rights owners,” Forrester said. “Sky’s subscriber backbone is solid enough, and it is successfully broadening its appeal with non-sport activity such as its Sky Arts offering. However, its profitable bottom line is certainly under more pressure than ever and some analysts have put ‘sell’ notes on Sky’s stock.”

    While BT is focused on acquiring as many sports rights as it can, its executives remain mindful that the sports channels exist to drive the company’s other businesses.

    “Three companies have come in and tried to launch sports channels on their own, just channels, and three have effectively failed in succession,” Watson said, referring to ITV Sport, Setanta and ESPN. “One of the reasons is that they can only sell the channel. In this market, that’s tricky. In this market, you need to be able to sell more products to customers than just content. We can do that. We can sell the channel and broadband and telephony.”

    BT is spending a lot to pick up sports rights and show that it’s serious about being a player in the British sports media market. BT took over the broadcast center at Olympic Park, where the company will produce its sports programming and shoot shoulder programming.

    It’s BT’s collection of sports rights — enough to fill three channels — that has been most impressive, particularly in soccer. In addition to the EPL, BT bought rights to the top leagues in France, Germany and Italy, plus pro soccer leagues in the U.S. (MLS) and Australia (A-League). It also bought rights to club rugby in the U.K., MotoGP, the UFC and the WTA. Through its ESPN deal, BT has rights to U.S. sports like Major League Baseball and college basketball.

    But it’s the EPL deal that most excites Watson. BT’s package calls for a game every Saturday around lunchtime during the EPL season. During the 38-week season, BT will have the first pick of games 18 times.

    “These are games that are the real market movers,” Watson said. “They are the games that everyone wants to watch and they’re the games that can drive serious business for you. No one has had that before except for Sky, who built a very good business on the back of having those games in the past.”

    Print | Tags: Global Special Issue
  • European companies shaking up the sports world

    Perhaps the most intriguing thing about compiling a list of disruptive European sports technology companies was how difficult it was to find them. At a time when digital is changing everything, why does sports seem to lag? There are two suggestions, one from each side of the negotiating table.

    The sport sector is famously conservative, distrustful of the new and untried, preferring to protect existing broadcast revenue rather than push boundaries. This is changing, particularly among smaller rights holders who are locked out of the big-ticket media deals. But, according to Michael Broughton of Sports Investment Partners, it remains sluggish: “MLBAM is a classic example of something that would never happen on this side of the Atlantic. Many sports still fear the Internet and IPTV — yet broadcast revenue for MLB has gone up considerably even whilst BAM grows … something for the cynics to examine carefully.”

    Then there’s the money. London is one of the great financial sectors in the world, but the city has been slow to come to the tech party. There are attempts afoot to bring the geeks of Shoreditch and the city bankers together, but don’t expect a Silicon Valley gold rush. These two tribes may share a postcode, but they live in different worlds.

    Squawka


    Squawka is part of the race to own and monetize the second-screen experience in the sports sector and markets itself around the tag line: “Stats Worth Sharing.” Squawka received funding from advertising agency BBH and has an official relationship with data specialist Opta to offer all manner of stats, performance and real-time conversation pieces. It calculates more than 14 million data points in real time, offering live statistics on teams and players, and allows users to filter statistics by any five-minute period in the game. The data panels are fully shareable on Facebook and Twitter.




    Seven League
    Seven League ran social media around last year's Big Game 5 rugby match at Twickenham Stadium.
    Photo by: Seven League

    The need for expert counsel in the digital space has never been higher with the prospect for false investment and wasted money prominent on the worry list of sports rights holders, media and brands. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the area of data. Seven League, the sector’s hot indie agency building a track record of work around the concept of “datatainment,” is going further than most in interpreting what all that data means. Created and led by Richard Ayers, the European sports sector’s digital thought leader, the agency has created interactive products that use performance data to entertain sports fans and help clients, including Manchester City, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and BT Sport, to broaden their commercial offer.



    Ticketscript
    Founded by Dutch entrepreneur Frans Jonker in 2006, Ticketscript was the first to introduce e-ticketing successfully to the Dutch and German event industry. Since then it has gained traction in the sports event market across the continent by helping rights holders to build on their fan communities via online and mobile solutions. The company’s main markets are music events, but Ticketscript has a growing sport portfolio including the Euro Hockey League and BMX Masters events, among others.



    Now TV

    Sky Sport’s first major move into the pay-as-you-go and on-demand sports market provides a flexible way for sports fans to watch Sky’s unrivaled sports rights portfolio. This is essentially a Netflix option for sports fans, opening a new revenue stream to add to Sky’s 10 million-subscriber base. It means that Premier League soccer, Ashes cricket and Masters golf can be streamed to mobile devices and platforms such as the Sony PlayStation. An initial promotional campaign saw 25,000 customers sign up to Now TV in the first three months, BSkyB said.



    Supponor

    This technology allows rights holders to offer closely targeted, virtual perimeter board advertising. Finnish in origin and backed by Sports Investment Partners in London, Supponor’s DBRLive system superimposes advertisements on the boards on a region-by-region basis. It relies on the quality of the domestic television feed to work properly and was let down by Globo, the domestic Brazilian broadcaster, on its big debut for the Brazil vs. England friendly this summer from the Estádio do Maracanã. A hitch certainly, but it feels like the future.



    Rightster
    As sports rights holders seek to monetize online content channels, Rightster’s star continues to rise. Led by Charlie Muirhead out of London, the company was recently chosen by rights house MP & Silva to create and manage YouTube channels for the Italian agencies’ extensive sports portfolio, including leagues and federations. Rightster takes the content and applies it to nascent markets for video content such as integrated betting services for bookmakers, video content for newspapers, and with live and on-demand video access for broadcasters.



    Fanatix

    There’s a conundrum at the heart of the race to own the second-screen experience: What happens when there’s no game to watch? Many apps have come and gone, but Fanatix, launched in October 2011 by sports tech veteran Will Muirhead, seems to be navigating the central issue of remaining relevant to users 24/7. Fanatix’s initial iteration was as a group messaging app for sports fans. This has since evolved into one of several second-screen “social TV platforms for sports” aimed at couch potatoes. Fanatix gained traction through creative partnerships with online betting site Paddy Power for May 2012’s Champions League final and with Eurosport for summer tennis, motorsports and cycling events. Throw in Twitter feeds and news aggregation and Muirhead’s relaunched Fanatix aims to “reimagine the back page,” an idea that attracted $1 million of new funding, doubling its existing investment total.



    Perform
    The market leaders in video content production, Perform broadcasts official sports highlights and news globally on more than 600 websites, including many leagues, teams and federations. Joint CEO Oliver Slipper runs the London-based company. Current highlights and news content available on Perform’s ePlayer include FIFA and UEFA football internationals, the NBA, ATP World Tour, WTA Tour, Aviva Premiership and RBS Six Nations rugby, England home cricket internationals, LV= County Championship cricket, and European Tour golf.



    Golf Gamebook

    Few sports are as conservative as golf, but the potential for tech to enhance the experience of fans, viewers and participants is enormous. Into this space come several European startups, the most notable being Golf Gamebook, an online handicapping and social media platform, and VPar, a live scoring platform. Meanwhile, major players such as IBM and SAP are circling the pro tours seeking a way in to showcase their technology. This will test the game’s famously technology-shy rights holders.

    Richard Gillis writes the Unofficial Partner blog and covers the sports business for the Wall Street Journal in London. Follow him on Twitter @RichardGillis1.

    Print | Tags: Global Special Issue
  • Catching up with Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC

    Jacksonville Jaguars owner and new Fulham FC owner Shadid Khan is carving out a large profile in the U.K. sports scene. Since buying the Jaguars in 2012, Khan has set his sights on growing the team’s brand by playing outside of the United States, and eagerly stepped up when the NFL was seeking a team to establish a consistent presence in London. Over the next four years, the Jaguars will play a game each season in London, and there has been speculation of additional games in the market in the future. Khan talked to SportsBusiness Journal recently about the brand’s opportunity in London.

    Khan jumped at the opportunity to have his Jaguars play in London and develop a U.K. fan base.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    “The London opportunity is huge for us, because it gives us a chance to really do something for the league and work in a leadership role. You have an international profile for the NFL and with the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

    “From the business aspect, there is one less home game ticket for our fans to buy, from budgetary purposes. To me, it was very important we have full stadiums. You need the energy, yes you want the money, but I think it’s more than that in football. You want the 12th person in the stand and you want the energy. You want people getting out from behind their HDTVs and into the stadium. That’s a huge challenge in the NFL. So internationally, Jacksonville and London, can work together to do that. There is a synergy. One and a half million British travelers come to Florida each year. I’ve already seen people going to Disney World who would take a day off and come for a game. I met several people who did that. It’s good exposure for Jacksonville, great for investment, insurance, banking, to all get that exposure in London. And obviously, on the football side, we need the money. There is a direct correlation between the top revenue-generating teams and success on the field. Green Bay is a small market team but it’s No. 4 in NFL revenue. The only way we are going to be able to do that is a combination — obviously success on the field is paramount — but we have to get sponsors. We have a full-time person we hired, Laura Oakes, who is our U.K. sponsorship director in London and she is selling and promoting. We have the Union Jax Fan Club; it has over 9,400 fans signed up already.”

    “It’s really very meaningful to us. It is something that could add a huge amount of value to us and we can add value to the league, and take the game to the next level.”

    Print | Tags: Global Special Issue
  • Coke sets sights on Russia

    Coca-Cola jump-started its 2014 Olympic marketing efforts across Russia more than a year ago. As the London Games ended, it released a digital campaign and immediately began touting its Olympic sponsorship in Russia.

    The beverage giant’s urgency was justified. The Sochi Games offer Coke its first opportunity in five years to use its Olympic sponsorship to gain market share in an emerging market, and the opportunity arrives at a time when Russia is becoming increasingly important to Coke’s business.

    NHL star Alexander Ovechkin is used in a campaign to identify Olympic torch bearers.
    Photo by: Coca-Cola
    Coca-Cola and its regional bottler, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, committed to invest $3 billion in Russia in the coming years. It is building a new plant in Rostov, a region adjacent to Sochi, and is looking to cement its place as the leading soft drink company and increase its sales of local juice brands. The Sochi Games offer a great opportunity to do both.

    “It’s a growing market,” said Thierry Borra, Coca-Cola’s director of Olympic Games management. “Buying power is increasing. We have a good marketing campaign that can help us.”

    Coke’s stature in Russia has improved in recent years, but it has taken time. Pepsi actually entered the Russian market first, opening its first plant there in 1974. It was two decades before Coca-Cola followed suit and opened its first factory in Moscow.

    Today, Coke leads Russia’s $14.5 billion carbonated soft drink market with a 36.7 percent share, according to Beverage Digest. Pepsi has an 18.3 percent share, but its total business, which includes Frito Lay and several juice brands, make it the top food and beverage company in Russia with sales there of more than $5 billion. It remains a strong brand in the Krasnodar region of Southern Russia, which is where Sochi is located, and that’s one reason Coca-Cola executives are excited about the Olympics.

    “For us, it’s a great opportunity to develop and potentially take over a bit of our competitor’s (market share there),” Borra said.

    Borra, a Frenchman who joined Coke in 1995 and has worked on every Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games, is one of the marketers spearheading Coke’s efforts in Russia. The company’s approach to Russia mirrors the marketing tactics it employed ahead of the London Games.

    Last January, Coke released a commercial featuring NHL star Alexander Ovechkin promoting a campaign to identify Olympic torch bearers. The commercial closed with Coke’s 2014 Olympic slogan “Vlivaisya!,” which means “joining.” The company also developed a mobile marketing tour that went to 15 cities, promoting past Olympic torch relays and raising awareness of Russia’s 40,000-mile plus relay.

    “We (are inviting) people to join the party that Russia is trying to start,” Borra said. “It’s a way for us to bring happiness across the country.”

    More than 65,000 people submitted essays and applications to carry the torch, and more than 14 million people
    voted to select the 14 torchbearers who will represent Coke in the Olympic torch relay.

    Coke has complemented its digital, torch-relay campaign with billboards in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi. It also ran a national promotion offering a commemorative Olympic glass for purchases of Coca-Cola at retail stores.

    The company has 20 brands in Russia, but it is concentrating its Olympic marketing on Coca-Cola, Powerade and a local juice drink called Dobry. The goal is to improve brand awareness and grow volume, Borra said.

    “The growth is there,” Borra said. “You just need to balance what you’re doing all around the country.”

    Beverage Digest Editor John Sicher said Coke may not see immediate increases in market share because of its Olympic efforts, but that doesn’t negate the value of the marketing initiative.

    “The Olympics are certainly a very large promotional opportunity for Coke, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into immediate market share gains,” Sicher said. “It’s more likely to translate into reinforcement of brand strength.”

    But it’s about more than just volume for Coke. Borra said that because Coke’s business in Russia is still so new the company also is using the Olympics to boost morale among its 15,000-plus employees. The company offered staff the chance to work the Games, and more than 1,000 employees applied. Select employees also will get a chance to run in the torch relay.

    Borra is confident the sales will follow.

    “The Olympics bring a unique opportunity to accelerate the business.”


    Photo by: Coca-Cola


     

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  • Business of the EPL

    How the clubs split TV money

    Approximately $1.48 billion received last season by the EPL via domestic and overseas broadcast revenue was divided among its clubs using the following formula: half the rights fee was divided equally between the clubs; 25 percent was awarded on a merit basis determined by a club’s final league position; and the final 25 percent was distributed as a “facilities fee” based on the number of matches shown on television involving the club. International broadcast revenue is distributed equally among all 20 clubs.

    Premier League total broadcasting payments, 2012-13 season (millions):

    Club (2012-13 finish) Live/Delayed telecasts Equal share Facility fees Merit payment Overseas TV Total payment
    Manchester United (1) 25/13 $21.0 $19.7 $23.0 $28.8 $92.5
    Manchester City (2) 21/17 $21.0 $16.8 $21.8 $28.8 $88.4
    Arsenal (4) 22/16 $21.0 $17.5 $19.5 $28.8 $86.8
    Tottenham Hotspur (5) 21/17 $21.0 $16.8 $18.4 $28.8 $85.0
    Chelsea (3) 16/22 $21.0 $13.2 $20.7 $28.8 $83.6
    Liverpool (7) 22/16 $21.0 $17.5 $16.1 $28.8 $83.4
    Everton (6) 14/24 $21.0 $11.7 $17.2 $28.8 $78.7
    West Ham United (10) 14/24 $21.0 $11.7 $12.6 $28.8 $74.1
    West Brom (8) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $14.9 $28.8 $73.5
    Swansea City (9) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $13.8 $28.8 $72.3
    Norwich City (11) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $11.5 $28.8 $70.1
    Fulham (12) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $10.3 $28.8 $68.9
    Newcastle United (16) 16/22 $21.0 $13.2 $5.7 $28.8 $68.7
    Aston Villa (15) 14/24 $21.0 $11.7 $6.9 $28.8 $68.4
    Stoke City (13) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $9.2 $28.8 $67.8
    28 (14) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $8.0 $28.8 $66.6
    Sunderland (17) 14/24 $21.0 $11.7 $4.6 $28.8 $66.1
    Wigan Athletic (18) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $3.4 $28.8 $62.0
    Reading (19) 10/28 $21.0 $8.8 $2.3 $28.8 $60.9
    Queens Park Rangers (20) 11/27 $21.0 $9.5 $1.1 $28.8 $60.4
    Sub Total 290/470 $419.7 $241.3 $241.3 $575.6 $1,478.0

    Note: Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Wolverhampton, Birmingham City, Blackpool, Burnley and Hull City competed in the Football League Championship, the second-highest division in the English football league system, during the 2012–13 season. The teams earned a combined total of $125.9 million. Portsmouth competed in League 1, the third-highest division overall in the system, during the 2012-13 season, and earned $8.75 million.
    Note: 1 GBP = $1.52, per conversion on XE.com on June 28
    Sources: Premier League; XE.com

    Kit sponsors for 2013-14

    In November, Arsenal and Emirates signed a $240 million deal that renewed their kit partnership through the 2018-19 season and included stadium naming rights until 2028. Starting with the 2014-15 season, General Motors’ Chevrolet brand will appear on the front of Manchester United’s jersey as part of a seven-year, $559 million deal.

    Club 2013-14 sponsor Manufacturer
    Arsenal Emirates Nike
    Aston Villa Dafabet* Macron
    Cardiff City Maylasia Puma
    Chelsea Samsung Adidas
    Crystal-Palace GAC.com Avec
    Everton Chang Beer Nike
    Fulham Marathonbet* Adidas
    Hull City Cash Converters Adidas
    Liverpool Standard Chartered Warrior
    Manchester City Etihad Airways Nike
    Manchester United Aon Nike
    Newcastle United Wonga* Puma
    Norwich City Aviva Errea
    Southampton aap3 Adidas
    Stoke City Bet365 Adidas
    Sunderland Bidvest* Adidas
    Swansea City GWFX* Adidas
    Tottenham Hotspur HP* Under Armour
    West Bromwich Zoopla Adidas
    West Ham United Alpari* Adidas

    *New jersey sponsor for 2013-14
    Source: SportsBusiness Journal research

    Top 10 selling jerseys

    Rank Player Club % of jerseys sold
    1 Robin van Persie Manchester United 25.4%
    2 Steven Gerrard Liverpool 8.2%
    3 Wayne Rooney Manchester United 6.0%
    4 Shinji Kagawa Manchester United 5.8%
    5 Luis Suárez Liverpool 3.6%
    6 Eden Hazard Chelsea 3.1%
    7 Paul Scholes Manchester United 2.7%
    8 Fernando Torres Chelsea 2.5%
    9 Kun Agüero Manchester City 2.2%
    10 Lukas Podolski Arsenal 2.1%

    Source: Kitbag.com

    Average uniform manufacturer fee per club for 2012-13

    League Manufacturer revenue per club (millions)
    Premier League $8.9
    Primera División $5.2
    Serie A $4.1
    Bundesliga $3.9
    Ligue 1 $2.1

    Note: Currency conversion as of June 28, 2013: 1 GBP = 1.52 U.S. dollar.
    Source: Repucom Kit Supplier Report 2012-13


    CARVING UP TV RIGHTS

    The EPL has awarded live television broadcast rights for all 380 Barclays Premier League matches each season for seasons 2013-14 through 2015-16 to a number of media groups:

    REGION RIGHTS HOLDER(S)
    Balkans IMG Media
    Belgium Telenet
    Brazil Fox Sports; ESPN
    Bulgaria Nova
    Canada Sportsnet; TSN
    Caribbean IMC
    China and Macau Super Sports Media Group (a)
    Czech Republic AMI
    Finland MTV Media
    France Canal+
    Germany Sky
    Greece OTE
    Hong Kong PCCW
    Indonesia MP & Silva
    Ireland BSkyB; BT (b)
    Italy Pitch International
    Japan IMG Media
    Middle East and North Africa MP & Silva
    Mongolia IMG Media
    Netherlands MP & Silva
    New Zealand MP & Silva
    Pacific Islands MP & Silva
    Poland Canal+ Cyfrowy Poland
    Portugal Benfica TV
    Romania Multi Media Sports Group
    Russia NTV-Plus
    Ships and airplanes IMG Media (c)
    Slovakia AMI
    South Africa, Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa SuperSport
    South and Central America (excluding Brazil) DirecTV; PanAmericana; Sky Mexico
    Spain Multi Media Sports Group
    Thailand, Cambodia and Laos Cable Thai Holdings
    Turkey Saran Media
    UK BSkyB; BT (d)
    Ukraine MP & Silva
    USA NBC Sports Group
    Vietnam IMG Media

    (a) Six-year deal through 2018-19 season in mainland China and Macau.
    (b) 154 matches were awarded in Ireland: BSkyB secured packages totaling 116 matches; BT has secured packages totaling 38 matches.
    (c) The three-year deal includes coverage on Sport 24, the 24-hour live sports channel exclusively produced for the airline and cruise industry. Matches will be shown live and in highlights on specially equipped Lufthansa and Gulf Air planes as well as Norwegian Cruise Liners and Carnival UK.
    (d) 154 matches were awarded in the U.K. BSkyB secured packages totaling 116 matches; BT secured packages totaling 38 matches. The overall value of the rights packages in the U.K. is $4.6 billion.
    Source: EPL

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  • Raging bull

    Austrian-based Red Bull has evolved from an energy drink producer to a lifestyle brand. The company now owns everything from a TV station, music label and print magazines, to Formula One teams and football and hockey franchises.

    It’s a rise tightly connected to the sports world. When Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz launched the energy drink in 1987, it was the company’s connection to action sports that put Red Bull on the map.

    Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz (left) has used high-profile deals such as the Red Bull Formula One team and driver Sebastian Vettel to put the energy drink brand in a league of its own.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    “The focus on action sports during Red Bull’s early years was Mateschitz’s talent to make a virtue out of necessity,” said Austrian journalist Wolfgang Fürweger, who wrote the book “The Red Bull Story ­— The Unbelievable Success of Dietrich Mateschitz.” “Red Bull’s ambitious marketing strategy of displaying the brand in an omnipresent way was simply not affordable in traditional sports such as football and motorsports at the beginning.”

    It was the young generation of the ’80s that helped sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding and paragliding gain recognition. “Mateschitz perfectly understood how to cater to the generation of yuppies in the late ’80s, which also wanted to differentiate itself from the older generation by what it drinks,” Fürweger said.

    Red Bull is still highly involved in action sports, but its growth has allowed it to move into mainstream sports. A Red Bull spokeswoman said the company now supports more than 600 athletes in 160-plus disciplines globally.

    While expanding its global reach in the sports world, the company has also continued to diversify its business portfolio. In 2007, Red Bull established a global media company called Red Bull Media House.

    “[The Media House was founded] to create authentic entertainment and build a secondary sustainable business,” the Red Bull spokeswoman said. “We are well positioned to maximize the new model in today’s media landscape because we own/control content and platforms, which gives us complete autonomy to distribute and monetize globally.”

    She added, “In its 27-year history, Red Bull has gone from being sold in one country to more than 165 countries today. The growth has been incredible, but we’ve done it step by step to build a loyal consumer base.”

    This loyal consumer base has been told that Red Bull “gives you wings,” enabling them to live out their dreams. It’s a slogan that helped the company generate close to the $6.5 billion in global revenue in 2012 while selling more than 5.2 billion cans of its energy drink, according to Forbes.

    To understand Red Bull’s enormous expansion and growth in less than three decades, it is important to look at
    Red Bull founded the X-Fighters World Tour in 2001.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    company’s mission statement. In Austria’s commercial register, where Red Bull is listed, companies have to describe their business purpose. The energy drink company’s listing reads: “Red Bull’s objective is the marketing of the brand Red Bull.” It shows that from its inception, Red Bull was about much more than selling energy drinks.
    With this in mind, Red Bull is already looking for new business ventures.

    “The company tries to cover every aspect of its customers’ life, from their sports and leisure behavior to media consumption,” Fürweger said. “It likely will create its own radio station and daily newspaper in the near future. However, its most current project seems to be the development and launch of a worldwide TV network.”

    Red Bull now owns a television station (Servus TV) in Austria that features programming such as documentaries, news broadcasts, live sports, talk shows and magazine shows targeted at German-speaking viewers in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

    Content for the proposed global network would come from Red Bull Media House, which is already producing numerous programs and features around the company’s athletes and events. The company spokesperson declined to discuss plans for the network.

    The reluctance of Red Bull and Mateschitz to talk to the media has been well documented. Fürweger said, after an unflattering article was written about Mateschitz in Austrian celebrity magazine Seitenblicke, Mateschitz bought the magazine “with the purpose of not appearing in it anymore.” He added, “It is certainly also the fear of not being able to control everything. Red Bull tries to control everything that is published and written about Red Bull. And the only way to accomplish it is to almost completely shut off communication.”

    Red Bull’s energy drink division has attracted a number of strong competitors. In reaction to brands such as Monster, Rockstar and 5-Hour Energy, the company introduced three new flavors and energy shots to its product portfolio in recent years.

    Despite this strong competition, especially from Monster in the U.S., Red Bull has kept its dominant position on the worldwide energy drink market. According to research company Euromonitor International, Red Bull in 2012 reported a net sales growth of 15.9 percent with strong sales growth in South Africa (+52 percent), Japan (+51 percent), Saudi Arabia (+38 percent), France (+21 percent), the U.S. (+17 percent) and Germany (+14 percent).

    As for Red Bull’s next conquests, Fürweger said, “In its core business, Red Bull wants to eliminate the last remaining white spots on the globe. There is certainly some potential in India, China, South Africa and Brazil, the world’s most populous countries, where Red Bull has not yet the same reach it has in other nations.”

    HJ Mai writes for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily Global.



    Sizing up the competition

    Monster Energy
    Red Bull’s biggest competitor is California-based energy drink Monster Energy. The similarities between Monster and Red Bull, especially in the area of marketing, are striking. Both companies focus their marketing on action sports, motorsports and music to target a young, predominantly male demographic.
    In just a little more than a decade, Monster has become the undisputed No. 2 in the U.S. energy drink market and has built its annual sales to $2.4 billion and net income to $340 million. Through sponsorships with the Mercedes Formula One team and several MotoGP drivers, Monster has also increased its international business, which now accounts for 20 percent of its total sales.

    PepsiCo
    Despite not being exclusively an energy drink, PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew has embraced action sports and is a strong competitor of Red Bull. The soft drink brand was one of the first sponsors of the X Games and has continued to support competitions and individual athletes. In 2005, the brand developed the Dew Tour with Alli, a division of NBC Sports, which was born out of insights taken directly from action sports athletes and fans. A Mountain Dew spokesperson said, “Together, we developed an idea that carved out a role for Mountain Dew as co-creator vs. sponsor.”



    HQs stay on the DL

    Red Bull is known for flashing its logo, slogan, products, athletes and musicians in a prolific way at events. But the company’s headquarters in Fuschl am See near Salzburg, Austria, lacks those flashy trademark features. The plain, dark-colored complex consists of several buildings with plain glass fronts. Not a single symbol at its headquarters would identify the company. Asked why Red Bull is so secretive, author Wolfgang Fürweger, who wrote a book about Red Bull, believes it’s a character trait of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who doesn’t want people to know and write about his personal life. “On the other hand, it is certainly also part of [Red Bull’s] marketing strategy because everything secretive becomes, in turn, intriguing.”



    Red Bull timeline


    1987
    Red Bull launches energy drink in Austria.
    Signs one-year shirt sponsorship deal with Austrian hockey club EC Salzburg.

    1989
    Former Austrian F1 driver Gerhard Berger becomes the first motorsports athlete to be sponsored by Red Bull.

    1992
    Hosts its first “Flugtag” (Flight Day) event in Vienna.

    1994
    Windsurfers Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Netherlands) and Robby Naish (USA) become the first international athletes to join the Red Bull roster.

    1995
    Enters 10-year partnership with the Sauber F1 Team and purchases majority share in the team.

    2000
    Launches its product in the Middle East.
    Returns as sponsor and naming-rights partner of EC Salzburg.

    2001
    Founds new sport called Red Bull Crashed Ice.
    Founds Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour for freestyle motocross.

    2003
    Founds international air race series called Red Bull Air Race.

    2004
    Buys F1 team Jaguar Racing, owned by Ford Motor Co.; rebrands it Red Bull Racing.
    After EC Salzburg returns to Austria’s top-flight hockey league, Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, Red Bull takes over complete ownership of the club and rebrands it EC Red Bull Salzburg.

    2005
    Takes over Austrian football Bundesliga club SV Austria Salzburg and rebrands it Red Bull Salzburg.
    n Buys F1 team Minardi and strikes 50/50 joint-ownership deal with former Austrian F1 driver Gerhard Berger. It rebrands the Italian-based team to Scuderia Toro Rosso, which is Italian for “Stable Red Bull.”

    2006
    Founds NASCAR Sprint Cup team know as Team Red Bull.
    Buys Major League Soccer franchise New York/New Jersey MetroStars from AEG and rebrands it New York Red Bulls.

    2007
    Founds its own music label, Red Bull Records.

    2008
    Buys Berger’s share of the team and becomes sole owner of Scuderia Toro Rosso.

    2009
    Buys license of German fifth division football club SSV Markranstädt and founds RasenBallsport Leipzig, commonly known as RB Leipzig.

    2011
    NASCAR Sprint Cup Team Red Bull ceases operations due to lack of on-track success.

    2012
    Signs shirt sponsorship and naming-rights deal with German Hockey League club EHC Munich.

    2013
    Takes over ownership of EHC Munich and renames team EHC Red Bull Munich.

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  • Women of the sports world

    Claire Williams
    Deputy team principal, Williams F1

    Claire Williams’ appointment as deputy team principal at Williams F1 in March was a rare occurrence in the world

    Claire Williams has found a home for herself in the male-dominated world of Formula One racing.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    of Formula One. She is one of only two women, along with Sauber F1’s Monisha Kaltenborn, to hold the role.

    In an environment as male-dominated as F1, Williams understands the importance of her role and stressed the need for more female role models.

    “It’s all about providing that example,” she said. “As more women come forward and take more leadership roles, it will in turn inspire other girls to see that it can be done.”

    Williams is proud to count Susie Wolff, F1’s only female driver, as a part of the Williams F1 team and a prime example of the sport’s slow shift in gender roles.

    “[Wolff] can demonstrate that she has gone up against the boys and has been successful,” Williams said. “That will, in itself, breed more girls to come out for the sport.”

    Williams’ father, Frank Williams, is the founder of Williams F1 and team principal.

    Williams’ primary role is to ensure that the team has the necessary budget to compete. As an independent team without a major backer, Williams F1 relies on its partners and the commercialization of its technology to generate its racing funds. Williams describes her days as “quite manic,” often filled with commercial meetings to secure partners and sponsors.

    “There’s a lot of competition for sponsorship dollars out there. There are hundreds of rights holders that all have amazing offers that we’re competing against, in the social and digital space. It’s a tough world out there, but in order to make sure that you meet your budget, you just have to work harder and smarter than your competition.”



    Monika Staab
    Women’s national team coach, Qatar

    In the last 20 years, the German women’s national football team has made its mark as one of the world’s top teams.
    Staab teaches soccer in Pakistan during a stint as the country’s national coach.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    The team boasts two World Cup titles and has won eight of the 11 UEFA Championships.

    While the country is now a leading powerhouse in the realm of women’s soccer, Monika Staab can recall a time when the sport was only for men, with little to no access for female players.

    “If you asked a man why a woman can’t play football, you would get the answer, ‘She is a crystal, and when you play football, a crystal will break,’” said Staab. “But not every woman is a crystal. My answer is, ‘I’ve been a woman for 54 years, and I haven’t broken yet.’”

    For more than 30 years, Staab has been a pioneer for women’s football. Her time as the manager for 1. FFC Frankfurt from 1993-2004 allowed her to have a direct impact on the growth and development of women’s football in Germany. After witnessing the success of the women’s national team, Staab decided it was time to help grow the sport in other countries.

    In 2007, she joined FIFA as the national women’s coach for Bahrain. After six months in Bahrain, followed by four months in Pakistan as the country’s national coach, Staab became a highly sought after consultant and instructor for the development of women’s soccer in the Middle East and Asia, a role that has taken her to 63 countries in the last five years. Staab is the women’s national coach of Qatar, a position she’s held since the end of February.

    In a country where it is common for the men to make the decision regarding a woman’s future, Staab once again faces the task of convincing the men that football can be beneficial to women.

    “I faced it 43 years ago in Germany, and now I have it again here in Qatar. I’m starting from scratch to convince all the men that women’s football is OK.”



    Nawal El Moutawakel
    Vice president, IOC Executive Committee

    As a young girl, running through the streets of Casablanca, Morocco, Nawal El Moutawakel was an anomaly in a
    El Moutawakel has championed the cause of female equality in the Arab world.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    region lacking in stadiums and female athletic teams. Her speed soon caught the eyes of coaches who groomed her to compete in the inaugural women’s 400m hurdles event at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she became the first Arab Muslim woman to win Olympic gold.

    Thirty years after her historic win, El Moutawakel continues to break gender and cultural stereotypes and remains a symbol for female equality in the Arab world.

    El Moutawakel joined the IOC Executive Committee in 1998 and was named vice president in 2012. In this role, she continues to fight for women’s athletics and said she was encouraged by the 2012 London Games, which saw each Arab country send a female athlete for the first time.

    “To have them come to the London Games showed that the IOC had an influence on these countries,” El Moutawakel said. “And these countries had a desire to include women.”

    A year after London 2012, El Moutawakel believes the impact can be seen in the Arab world. She credits international pressure brought on by the Games for the Saudi Arabian government’s declaration in May to allow young girls to participate in physical education.

    “This is a positive sign that shows that maybe the Rio Games will have greater performances from young women and young girls who were not allowed to practice physical education,” El Moutawakel said.

    El Moutawakel is proud of the advances Morocco has made since her historic win.

    “Since that gold in 1984, we have included women in every single Olympic edition. We never sent women to be participants. We sent them to win.”

    Anna Hrushka writes for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily Global.

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  • Global sports facilities push the edge on design


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  • Opta's numbers add up

    Years before many other companies began exploring the expansive possibilities of location-based sports analytics, there was Opta Sports.

    The London-based firm began plotting soccer player and ball movements on x/y graphical coordinates in 2002, opening up the ability to use computers to chart player performance in real time. Such analytics have since become wildly popular on both sides of the Atlantic, and have grown far beyond soccer, now having a major influence in basketball, baseball, football, cricket and numerous other sports.

    Opta’s Aidan Cooney and his team produce analytics for hundreds of sports clients.
    Photo by: Opta Sports
    Opta’s early beachhead in the space enabled the company to develop key relationships with hundreds of major European sports entities, including the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga and the Dutch Eredivisie.

    “We’ve seen the European data market as more visually oriented than the U.S.,” said Opta CEO Aidan Cooney, who led a purchase of the company in 2002 from BSkyB. “The U.S. is a very sophisticated statistics market. There’s particularly a lot of interest in box scores and what I would call timetable-based reports. In Europe, those kinds of statistics are relatively new and there’s more of a history of the more location-oriented measures. But in general, the market for data and the demand for data is absolutely exploding.”

    Similar to U.S.-based competitors Stats LLC and Bloomberg Sports, and European rivals Prozone and Infostrada Sports, Opta operates on two primary, parallel tracks: a consumer-facing side of the business in which data is provided to the public through media, league and team partners, and an enterprise-level side in which analytics are used by team management for scouting and to help shape roster development decisions.

    In soccer, Opta’s analytics can determine passing accuracy for each player in a specific zone on the field, measure
    the distance the player runs during the course of a game, and isolate tendencies of what he does each time he gets the ball.

    Because of the more developed realm of sports betting in Europe compared to what exists in America, the company is also aligned with most of the major bookmakers including Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill.

    The company now operates locations in nine countries, has nearly 120 employees, and is expanding operations into South America, Asia and other rapidly developing territories. In early 2011, Opta also signed a large-scale data services deal with Major League Soccer, giving the company a meaningful entry into the U.S. market.

    The recent run of growth has brought the privately held Opta Sports to a crossroads. More than a decade after Cooney led a team of largely individual investors to purchase and develop the company, Opta recently struck an agreement with U.K. digital media company Perform in which Perform will acquire Opta in a deal valued at $61 million, with a management incentive of up to $10.7 million more. The pact is conditional on a successful fundraising Perform intends to make through a share placement.

    Opta will remain a stand-alone entity and keep its brand name within the Perform umbrella. But it will in part be integrated with Goal.com, Perform’s global soccer portal.

    “This process has actually been developing for a year,” Cooney said of the search for a new, more institutional investor. “Right now, there are more than 60 individual shareholders, and what we’re after is a new type of investment structure.”

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  • Repucom continues aggressive expansion strategy

    Paul Smith, Repucom’s global CEO, walked out of a boardroom in May after completing a months-long, tense contract negotiation with a key tech supplier. He was less than ecstatic.

    “It wasn’t fun,” Smith said. “We both walked out feeling that neither of us got very close to what we wanted. Let’s say it finished in a one-all draw. But when we shook hands after the match, the guy said to me: ‘You know what the difference between you guys and everyone else is? You guys invest in the industry.’ I really take a lot of comfort in that.”

    Global CEO Paul Smith leads Repucom’s global push.
    Photo by: Marc Bryan-Brown
    Smith can also take comfort that in only a few short years, Repucom has methodically built a global sports research juggernaut that can go head-to-head with more tenured competition such as London-based Populus, WPP Group’s Kantar Media, and Nielsen.

    Repucom was founded in Sydney in 2004 and began operating in the U.S. in 2007. The company is now based in Stamford, Conn. Its global expansion accelerated in November 2010, when Repucom formed a strategic alliance with Cologne-based research and consulting firm Sport+Markt AG. That deal, and numerous since then, was financed by GF Capital Private Equity Fund, a New York-based private equity firm that took equity in the joint venture. Within months of the deal, Repucom acquired three fellow measurement shops: German-based IFM Sports; U.K.-based Sports Marketing Surveys; and Kansas City-based Image Impact.

    Smith said securing the financial backing of the equity fund was the critical step toward creating a universal model for rights holders, brands, agencies and broadcasters in sports and entertainment to assess current and potential partnerships.

    “We continue to be very acquisitive,” Smith said. “We’ve completed one acquisition this year [Australian sports consultancy Colgan & Co. was announced in July] and we have three more running as we speak, which will help us expand around the world. The key thing to us is that we are finding that, in general, the global acceptance of systems processes and methodologies is nearly complete.”

    Latin America has been a key part of Repucom’s most recent global moves. After several years of researching the Latin American landscape, Repucom in the summer of 2012 formed a joint venture with Brazilian media research company IBOPE — the region’s equivalent of Nielsen — and acquired consultancy company Informedia, creating the biggest sports research footprint in that part of the globe. Those deals allowed the company to create, among other things, a tool similar to Repucom’s Sports24, its signature brand exposure measurement product in the U.S., which integrates Nielsen data into the company’s media valuation technology.

    The Latin American strategy both blends and separates the old Repucom with the new Repucom.

    “We were, and are still, the best logo counters in the business, hands down,” Smith said. “Bring on the competition and we’ll kick their ass all over town. But under our old model, there were soft markets that didn’t buy into media measurement. There are a number of markets in Asia, for example, that have quite soft actual media exposure values, but have a lot of other elements that play into the valuation model for sponsorship. The new Repucom model is a complete range of global services.”

    This spring, the company announced the global expansion of the Davie-Brown Index, a celebrity awareness product launched in the U.S. in 2006 by Dallas-based The Marketing Arm and now operated by Repucom.

    Another big win this year came when the company won FIFA’s social media measurement business despite not having a single client subscribing to that new service at the time of the bid. In April, Repucom agreed to incorporate social media analysis from Boston-based Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight platform into its client offering and secured similar partnerships with several other third-party vendors.

    Finally, in October the company will open a 42,000-square-foot data analytics facility in Bangalore, India. The
    The rendering shows Repucom’s planned India office.
    Photo by: Repucom
    facility will bring its number of employees worldwide to more than 1,400 in 20 offices.

    The global expansion of its products sets a strong foundation for Repucom’s current portfolio of brands that use sports to market worldwide.

    Coca-Cola, for example, has worked with Repucom in North America for several years to quantify the value of major athletic sponsorships, such as the NCAA and NBA. According to the soda giant, Coca-Cola uses Repucom to measure the quality and duration of sports fans’ exposure to sponsorship elements such as on-screen graphics, courtside signage and courtside branded assets such as cups and coolers.

    Business with such blue-chip brands had paid off for Repucom, with Smith acknowledging that his company is profitable.

    “We’re making money,” he said. “But we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re known as being a ‘disruptive’ company and we’re going to continue to innovate, because it’s all about gathering and distributing the information in a different and better way.”



    Repucom's major offices & select clients

    The Americas
    Stamford, Conn.; Charlotte; Sao Paulo; Vancouver
    Key clients: NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA Tour, Madison Square Garden, Boston Red Sox, Miami Heat, U.S. Tennis Association, PGA of America, LPGA, USGA, Arizona Diamondbacks, Anaheim Angels, Washington Nationals, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Speedway Motorsports Inc., International Speedway Corp., Feld Motor Sports, Gatorade, Anheuser-Busch InBev, UPS, Geico, Coca-Cola, Mutual of Omaha, Callaway, BBVA Compass, Red Bull, Aon, EA Sports, Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, Rede Globo, Itau Unibanco

    Europe
    London; Waterloo, Belgium; Paris; Cologne and Karlsruhe, Germany; Hilversum, The Netherlands; Milan; Barcelona, Spain
    Key clients:
    FIFA, UEFA, Barclays English Premier League, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain football clubs, Etihad Stadium, Lawn Tennis Association, PGA European Tour, Volkswagen, Red Bull, Unilever Schweiz, HSBC, Deutsche Football League, Just Marketing International, Rolex, LG Electronics, FedEx, BMW, UBS, BSkyB, Unilever, HSBC, Eredivisie (highest division of professional football in the Netherlands), Puma

    Middle East
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Key clients:
    Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, International Cricket Council

    Australia/New Zealand
    Sydney and Melbourne, Australia
    Key clients: National Rugby League, Tennis Australia, International Cricket Council, Australian Football League, V8 Supercars Australia, Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust, Australian Rugby Union, SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby), ANZ Championships, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Stadiums Queensland, Victoria Racing Club, Bupa Australia, AAMI insurance, Foster’s Group, National Australia Bank, Lion Nathan National Foods, Orica Greenedge, Brown-Forman, Pernod Ricard

    Asia
    Singapore; Bangalore, India; Tokyo
    Key clients:
    Asian Tour (golf), SingTel Optus, Board of Control for Cricket in India, Idea Cellular, Dentsu, IMG, Epson, Asian Football Confederation, J League (highest division of professional football in Japan), Bridgestone, Tokyo Dome, Mindshare, Mediacom, Hero MotoCorp

    Africa
    Johannesburg
    Key clients: South African Rugby Union, Cricket South Africa, Kaizer Chiefs F.C., Absa Bank, Investec Bank, MTN, Comrades Marathon, The Sharks (rugby), SA Breweries, Nedbank

    Source: Repucom

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  • 10 Italian change agents to watch

    The American acquisition of AS Roma and the construction of Juventus Stadium ignited a revolution in the Italian sports industry over the last two years and introduced new commercial concepts and sophisticated marketing. As Italians wrestle with Roma’s idea of appreciating franchise value and with Juventus’ introduction of private facility ownership, we identified 10 companies that embrace change and are developing an industry.

    — Compiled by John Genzale

    AS Roma

    Photo by: Getty Images

    The top priority for AS Roma is to get a stadium built, said CEO Italo Zanzi. His club shares the publicly owned Stadio Olimpico with rival S.S. Lazio. Built for the 1960 Olympics, the stadium is antiquated by any modern standard. Roma’s stadium ambition is the cornerstone in building a global brand, American-style. Zanzi talks about Rome as an “untapped market” and about Roma’s “internal team … generating revenue, becoming the best-in-class and building something special for the world’s most loyal fans.” As much of Serie A plods on with business as usual, Zanzi focuses on connecting with fans through VIP areas of the stadium, jersey fronts dedicated to fans (a deal with Nike kicks off in 2014), an anti-racism campaign, and a local foundation (Roma Cares).

    The VIP area at Stadio Olimpico.
    Photo by:AS Roma
    Dao Consulting

    Stefano De Alessi, CEO of Dao Consulting, is particularly proud of selling and servicing the VIP area within Stadio Olimpico. Dao has an “exclusive partnership with Roma that allows us to sell everything for them.” De Alessi and co-CEO Edoardo Ottaviani represent the national sports federation and its current president, Giovanni Malago, and have landed large sponsors such as sports apparel maker Kappa and telecommunications company Wind. The agency also represents many of Italy’s top athletes including Olympic swimming champion Federica Pellegrini.

    Infront Sports & Media and Sportfive Italia
    Marketing Serie A is the most evolved and competitive segment of the Italian sports industry. Competing fiercely with Dao Consulting and with each other are two Milan-based agencies, Infront Italy, which represents AC Milan and Lazio, and Sportfive Italia, which represents Juventus.

    Infront Italy President Marco Bogarelli said his company specializes in television production and media rights, and does work in animation, digital media rights, sponsorship activation and Web design. Infront represented AC Milan in the July signing of Banca Popolare di Milano to a three-year, top-tier sponsorship.

    Sportfive Italia represents several Serie A clubs including hospitality at Juventus’ new stadium. Managing director Walter Crippa said, “By the end of June, all 2,500 premium seats for the season starting in August were sold and 39 of the 40 suites were leased.” (The club is saving one for a naming-rights partner, which is being marketed by Sportsfive’s sister company in Switzerland.)

    Studio Ghiretti
    Founder Roberto Ghiretti chooses cooperation rather than competition with other marketing agencies. While the others compete in Serie A, the former volleyball executive works closely with Serie B and youth sports. His Parma-based Studio Ghiretti has gained traction with companies by emphasizing social responsibility. Ghiretti said, “It soothes my soul and also opens doors” with a portfolio that includes McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Volkswagen.

    Stadia
    Following the Juventus Stadium construction, Matt Rossetti of Detroit and Alberto Francini of Milan established architectural firm Stadia. Rossetti’s credits include Ford Field while Francini’s company, Metrogramma, is an urban master planner and sports facility designer. Rossetti said Stadia is aiming for pre-eminence when commercial pressure initiates a new era of sports facilities construction. Francini said, “We want our facilities to be the economic engine that reactivates Italian cities.” Stadia is working on feasibility studies for Fiorentina, Udinese and Siena.

    Mondo
    Competitors ran on a Mondo track at the London Olympics.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Mondo started in Gallo 65 years ago as a small manufacturer of sports balls and has since become the world’s largest ball manufacturer. The family-run company, founded by Edmondo Stroppiana, has diversified, literally changing the surface of sports by becoming a leading manufacturer of arena floors, track surfaces and soccer pitches. The company holds 211 patents, employs 1,500 worldwide, has installed surfaces at the last 10 Summer Olympic Games, and manufactured 38,000 seats for Juventus Stadium.

    RCS Sport
    RCS Sport general manager Michele Acquarone likes big ideas. “I dream of holding a regular-season NBA game in San Siro,” he said of the 80,000-seat home of Inter and AC Milan. RCS organized the NBA’s last game in Italy, a 2012 preseason contest between the Boston Celtics and a team from Milan. RCS creates events in various sports. It promotes cycling’s Giro d’Italia by holding amateur races is cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Pavarotti recordings kick off each of the races and pasta dinners conclude them.

    Panini
    Panini, the Modena-based collectibles company, bought out Donruss in 2009 and renewed a four-year trading-card contract with the NBA in 2012. But according to group licensing director Peter Warsop, next year’s World Cup will be the biggest business in the billion-dollar company’s history. Panini is a licensee of all four of America’s top leagues and has an exclusive agreement with FIFA. Warsop noted the popularity of trading cards in America, but said that “70 percent of our collectibles business is in sticker packets and albums.” Worldwide soccer drives that business.

    Technogym
    Nerio Alessandri was 22 in 1983 when he founded Technogym in his garage. Now the fitness-equipment company has 2,000 employees and 6,000 customers. Technogym has retail outlets, but considers itself a business-to-business vendor. The Cesena company sells equipment to fitness clubs, hotels, corporations and sports teams, and has equipped fitness centers in each Olympic Village since Sydney 2000.

    John Genzale (johngenzale@gmail.com) is the founding editor of SportsBusiness Journal and now resides in Italy.

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  • Globosport ready for the spotlight

    Imagine a star player announcing a high-profile agent search, interviewing all the top outfits. And in the end he chooses one of his colleagues, a player.

    Impossible? Not in tennis, where that scenario played out with U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray tapping doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi as his agent. Murray also retained Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment for offcourt marketing.

    Murray spurned well-known firms like IMG and Lagardère, as well as incumbent CAA Sports, which hotly wooed

    Mahesh Bhupathi
    Photo by: Getty Images
    him, to choose Bhupathi’s Globosport, an 11-year old Indian sports marketing and movie firm.

    It was a highly nontraditional choice to say the least.

    Globosport has 40 employees spread around five offices in India and one in Dubai. It handles sports marketing in India for brands including Procter & Gamble and Colgate, which essentially means creating activation programs around cricket. And in recent years it has gone into the movie business.

    “We are branching out in the entertainment space, we own TV content and movies in India,” Bhupathi said. He said Globosport has produced one motion picture and has several more in development.

    So why would Murray choose such a firm? After all, Globosport does not represent any other athletes. Its website is somewhat antiquated, with dated information on clients and events the firm no longer represents.

    Murray himself was not available for comment, but in the May press release announcing the venture between XIX and Globosport to represent him, the Scotsman said, “Mahesh’s understanding of the sport will create the perfect team for my off-court interests and will allow me to continue to dedicate myself and focus on my goals on the court.”

    More than that though, in a global sport like tennis, for Murray to know Bhupathi will be at most events is something few agencies can offer.

    Perhaps Bhupathi answered it best when asked how often he meets with Murray.

    “Every week at tournaments,” he said, almost puzzled that was a question. “I see him every day.”

    And with no other players to manage, Globosport can give heightened attention to its one player, something the big agencies cannot offer.

    Bhupathi, who went pro in 1991 and was for a time the No. 1-ranked doubles players in the world, still resides in the top 10. Despite his active playing schedule, Bhupathi is hardly some athletic figurehead at Globo-sport. He founded and runs the company.

    When not on the court, he is regularly in touch with his firm’s top managers, with an active hand in decisions. “I have a good team that manages stuff when I am travelling,” he said.

    Globosport also received a cash infusion from New York marketer Platinum Rye, which bought half the company
    The agency landed a big fish in signing Wimbledon champ Andy Murray.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    last year. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

    That money has helped fuel Globo-sport, which is behind the launch of the International Premier Tennis League.
    The exhibition team tennis series launches next year, with Asia and Middle Eastern franchises expected to sell for $10 million apiece.

    That November-only series, which will count on stars like Murray committing to it, could push Globo-sport more fully into the sports space in Asia.

    Currently, the company is largely focused on India, helping brands navigate the market and tap into native sports and stars. But the International Premier Tennis League could offer platforms for brands seeking to invest in markets like Asia where tennis is a hot sport.

    And who knows, maybe Bhupathi and his star client will even be on the same team … again.

    Print | Tags: IBL, Tennis, U.S. Open, Wimbledon, Champion, Ping, Cialis, IMG, India, NTRA, Cricket, TES, International, Asia, Middle East, Franchises
  • How Viagogo is disrupting the ticketing business

    There is no Viagogo Stadium or all-out blitz on sports talk radio to mirror StubHub’s recent entry into U.S. facility naming rights and successful branding through drive-time media. But Viagogo, through its own strategies, has quickly grown into a leading player in international secondary ticketing.

    Formed seven years ago by Eric Baker, one of the co-founders of StubHub, Viagogo has had a simple premise: provide the same kind of safe, secure ticket resale that StubHub helped create in the United States. And in the intervening years, Baker has led an expansion in nearly 50 international markets, and is aligned with dozens of major European soccer teams and performing arts venues including Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

    StubHub co-founder Eric Baker started Viagogo and has shaken up the international secondary ticketing market.
    Photo by: Newscom
    But striking those deals was anything but a simple, straightforward process. Secondary ticketing was, and in many territories still is, a far less developed concept than in the U.S. Some countries had outright made it illegal. And even where legal, hooliganism and fan violence toward rival supporters made ticket resale a highly complex affair.
    Some deals still remain highly unpopular with fans, such as one Viagogo held with German soccer club Schalke 04 that was recently terminated after less than one year.

    But while StubHub in the U.S. has pursued a more media and marketing-driven relationship with teams and leagues, Viagogo’s official pacts have often taken a step further. Viagogo for many clubs requires official registration for both buyers and sellers, and in some cases a supplemental membership into a team’s official fan club. And unlike the eBay-owned StubHub, which strongly abhors any sort of artificial price restrictions, Viagogo occasionally has allowed price ceilings and price floors. Deals between Viagogo and individual clubs are typically based around sharing of ticket sales revenue with additional sponsorship components.

    “Resale has to work for both fans and rights holders,” Baker said. “We’ve seen situations in the States where resale has cannibalized the primary market for teams and there’s now a more adversarial relationship between primary and secondary. My business becomes more much defensible to anybody when I can find a proper middle ground. And we think by being fully cooperative with clubs, we can be more successful for everybody.”

    Viagogo, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, now transacts more than a half-billion dollars’ worth of tickets
    annually, translating to a healthy nine-figure business based on combined commission rates of 25 percent for each ticket sold. The company last year shifted its headquarters to central Europe after its formation in London. The move was the subject of heavy consumer and media debate over whether Viagogo was seeking to get out from under U.K. laws or simply reflecting the expansion of the European market, as the company said.

    In recent years, other ticket outfits have also seen the immense promise and potential of European and Asian ticket resale and began to expand into territory occupied by Viagogo. U.K.-based Seatwave, Ticketmaster-affiliated Get Me In, and Baker’s own creation, StubHub, are among them.

    StubHub in late 2011 began an aggressive entry into Europe, opening a London office and striking partnerships with English Premier League clubs Everton and Sunderland, among others. But Baker said his early lead has put Viagogo in a strong position.

    “StubHub has built a phenomenal business in the U.S., but we’ve taken a very different approach, and think our performance speaks for itself,” Baker said. “Nobody’s come close to our footprint where we operate.”

    But some industry observers believe the European ticket resale market is still not large or vibrant enough to support four major players, certainly not at recent growth rates, and believe a market shakeout is forthcoming.

    “I can’t see how this possibly continues at the pace it has,” said Graham Burns, chairman of the U.K.-based Association of Secondary Ticket Agents. “There’s not enough scope in Europe to support four major players long-term.”

    A meaningful move into the U.S. for Viagogo, however, remains a work in progress. A 2007 deal with the Cleveland Browns failed to generate much traction, Baker said, but he remains open to trying other stateside initiatives.

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  • Jacques Rogge through the years: Highlights of a career

    The International Olympic Committee will vote Sept. 10 on who will succeed Jacques Rogge as the organization’s president. The new president will begin his term immediately. On the eve of the vote in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we recall some highlights of Rogge’s career.

    — Compiled by Brandon McClung

    1989

    Rogge competed in the Olympics himself in sailing. He was elected IOC president in 2001.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    Elected president of the European Olympic Committees.

    1991
    Becomes a member of the International Olympic Committee.

    1998
    Named an executive board member of the IOC.

    2001
    Elected IOC president, succeeding Juan Antonio Samaranch.

    2002
    Rogge becomes the first IOC president to stay in the Olympic village.

    2003
    NBC lands the U.S. media and marketing rights to the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games with a $2.2 billion bid.
    Vancouver named the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

    2004
    201 national Olympic committees, a record at the time, participate in the 2004 Games.

    2005
    London wins the bidding to host the 2012 Summer Games.
    IOC votes to eliminate baseball and softball from the 2012 London Games, becoming the first sports dropped by the Games since polo in 1936.

    2007
    IOC selects Sochi, Russia, to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
    Rogge announces plans for the Youth Olympic Games. The event will take place every two years, with the first Summer Games to be held in 2010 and the first Winter Games in 2012.

    2009
    Re-elected to a new four-year term as IOC president with an 88-1 vote.
    Rio de Janeiro wins the bidding to host the 2016 Olympics.
    IOC votes in favor of adding rugby sevens and golf as Olympic sports beginning in 2016.
    IOC promises to cover at least part of a potential deficit if the Vancouver Games run a deficit.

    2011
    NBC secures the broadcasting rights in the U.S. for the 2014-2020 Olympic Games. The deal is valued at $4.4 billion.
    IOC votes to include ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle and snowboard parallel special slalom at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
    Pyeongchang, South Korea, selected to host the 2018 Winter Games.

    2012
    U.S. Olympic Committee and IOC agree on a new revenue-sharing agreement that will start in 2020 and last until 2040.

    2013
    IOC votes to drop wrestling from its schedule for the 2020 Games. Wrestling has been a part of every modern Olympics since they began in 1896.
    Twelve new events are officially added to the Sochi Olympic Games sports program, bringing the total number of events to 98.

    Source: SportsBusiness Journal research



    The IOC's presidential candidates

    Thomas Bach

    Nation: Germany
    IOC member since: 1991
    Sports career: Gold medalist in fencing at the 1976 Montreal Games; president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation

    Sergey Bubka

    Nation: Ukraine
    IOC member since: 2008
    Sports career: Four-time Olympic pole vaulter who won gold at the 1988 Seoul Games; president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine

    Richard Carrión

    Commonwealth: Puerto Rico
    IOC member since: 1990
    Sports career: Executive committee member of the Olympic Committee of Puerto Rico; central board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA)

    Ser Miang Ng

    Nation: Singapore
    IOC member since: 1998
    Sports career: Vice president of the Singapore Olympic Committee; chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Olympic Council of Asia

    Denis Oswald

    Nation: Switzerland
    IOC member since: 1991
    Sports career: Three-time Olympic rower, won bronze at the 1968 Mexico City Games; president of the International Rowing Federation (FISA); former president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF)

    Ching-Kuo Wu

    Nation: Taiwan
    IOC member since: 1988
    Sports career: President of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA)

    — Compiled by Tripp Mickle

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