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Volume 6 No. 217


Bloomberg Sports has completed a joint venture partnership deal with IMG in which the global sports and entertainment company has acquired a minority stake in Bloomberg's fast-growing fantasy and professional sports management operation. Financial terms were not disclosed, but industry sources pegged the deal in the $6-8M range, with IMG acquiring roughly a third of the company and Bloomberg retaining majority control. The alignment, several months in development and first reported in April by SportsBusiness Journal, is designed foremost to accelerate an international expansion of Bloomberg's sports-oriented analytics products. "We're very excited to have this done and be able to look to the next phase of our company's growth," said Head of Bloomberg Sports Bill Squadron, head of IMG Media's interactive operations in North America from '04-06. "We think there's a huge opportunity for us in both Europe and Asia in things like soccer and cricket." Bloomberg Sports, in operation for nearly four years, has built a two-pronged operation in which it sells a variety of analytics products to fantasy sports enthusiasts, and also has developed professional-grade products used by more than 20 MLB clubs to evaluate players and opponents. Inner Circle Sports advised Bloomberg Sports on the deal. "Bloomberg is a renowned global brand, and we are very excited about our investment," said IMG Senior VP/Strategic Planning & Financial Operations Rob Ponger. "We believe the field of data analytics has enormous growth potential and IMG's presence around the world can play an important role in the success of this partnership going forward." Bloomberg Sports will retain its brand name, as well as existing offices in both N.Y. and London.

NBC Olympics and Facebook Wednesday announced a partnership that will promote the Olympics on TV via Facebook, while at the same time send Olympic TV viewers to Facebook to discuss the Games. NBC Olympics has set up its own page on the social networking site, which will carry exclusive content including highlights. Facebook and NBC will produce social media segments that will be carried on NBC's various TV and digital platforms. Facebook also has committed to launch "Talk Meter," which occasionally will alert TV viewers to the stories and results that many fans are discussing on the social media site (John Ourand, THE DAILY). Facebook and NBC Olympics execs said that the arrangement “was not an advertising deal, and they indicated that no money was changing hands.” In N.Y., Brian Stelter reported the companies in effect will be “marketing each other’s products, possibly encouraging even more simultaneous viewing and chatting.” Fans will be able to “let Facebook friends know that they are watching videos and reading articles on the network’s Olympics Web site, possibly encouraging more viewing and reading by their friends.” Stelter writes perhaps the “more intriguing part of the partnership, for traditional television viewers, involves Facebook’s data-crunching about user conversations related to the Olympics.” Facebook Strategic Media Partnerships Manager Andy Mitchell said, “NBC is going to turn that data into stories.” The prime-time broadcast on NBC “will also promote a daily poll on Facebook about the Olympics.” NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel said the Facebook integration would come on “when the information warrants it and when it is compelling.” Stelter noted NBC “has not announced a deal with Twitter around its Olympics telecasts, but it is likely to do so before the Games start” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11).

British telecom group BT said that its pay-TV offering "had become a credible player" with consumers and rivals following its "surprise acquisition" of English soccer rights, according to Kate Holton of REUTERS. While "few groups have succeeded in taking on" Britain's dominant pay-TV provider BSkyB the head of BT's TV service said that winning 38 live matches per season would "bring more customers" to its fledgling TV base and its new BT Infinity broadband offering. BT Vision CEO Marc Watson said, "It takes a while when you are a telecomS company like BT, where customers have a very fine idea of what you offer, to persuade them to look at you for other services like entertainment. What we are seeing are the first signs that we are getting traction and that we are making real progress" (REUTERS, 7/11).

The BBC "appears to be closing in on a deal to screen future Olympics," according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. BBC Trust Chair Christopher Patten confirmed that talks led by BBC outgoing Dir-General Mark Thompson "are progressing." Patten told Telegraph Sport: "Mark is leading those talks and they are happening right now. They [the Olympics] are really important to us." The IOC has held out against a quick deal with the BBC, "which is attempting to deflate the cost in the knowledge that, with existing listed-events legislation, it is the only realistic" free-to-air candidate. The IOC would "love a dream team of a commercial broadcaster and Sky to come to the table, but that looks optimistic" (TELEGRAPH, 7/11).

The Argentinian government has spent 4B pesos ($880M) on TV broadcasts for the last three years through its "Football for Everybody" program, according to Alejandro Casar Gonzalez of LA NACION. The program created in '09 "to nationalize the broadcasts of football matches," has already paid 2.3B pesos ($510M) to the Argentine Football Association for exclusive rights, 1.04B pesos ($230M) on advertising and 678M pesos ($140M) on broadcast, production and marketing costs. Of the three figures, "the one that called attention" was the advertising. Of the six tournaments that have been broadcast by the state, "only one had private advertising." And since a decision was made in the summer of '10 to ban private advertising, the broadcasts now only air publicity from the government or state-owned enterprises. In the three years of the program, the income from private advertising "barely reaches" 220M pesos ($88M) or 5.5 % of the total government expenditure, "ridiculing one of the promises" made by Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez at the time she presented the program in '09. On the subject of funding the program, Fernandez had said: "Later it will be financed by the marketing of the product. That is what will ensure the initial investment and I am sure exceed it. The surplus will go to the AFA and the promotion of Olympic sports." Three years later, Gonzalez writes, "There is no surplus. Only billions in expenses" (LA NACION, 7/9).

Montreal's TSN Radio 990 was "venting its frustration" Tuesday after parent company Bell announced plans "to transform it to a French-language sports station," according to Jason Magder of the Montreal GAZETTE. Bell Media said that "it intends to change" TSN 990 to RDS 990, the radio equivalent of the French Réseau des Sports TV network. The application is "part of the approval process" for Bell to purchase Astral Media, which owns the English-language Chom 97.7 FM, Virgin 96, and CJAD 800 AM. Bell had asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission "to make an exception" to its rules governing media concentration, which state that "no company can own more than three English-language radio stations in a given market." That request was denied. If the deal is approved, English-language broadcasts of NHL Montreal Canadiens games would return to CJAD, "where they had been until last season" (Montreal GAZETTE, 7/11).

Telecom company Orange has finalized a deal for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 mobile and tablet rights, according to On the two devices, Orange will stream all Ligue 1 matches, "the best match-ups of Ligue 2," and summaries of each championship day from both leagues. The new deal will expire in June '16 (, 7/11). Terms of the deal were not disclosed but on June 27, Ligue de Football Professionnel President Frédéric Thiriez had said the LFP would receive €25M ($30.7M) from Orange for the Ligue 1 mobile rights (L'EQUIPE, 6/27).