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Volume 6 No. 213

Marketing and Sponsorship

Bankers for IMG Worldwide have cut to 10 "the list of suitors" for the talent agency, home to "a host of pro athletes and sporting events," according to Atkinson & Kosman of the N.Y. POST. IMG, set to sell for around $2B, "initially attracted about two dozen bidders," citing sources, before the list "was cut for a second round." Those crossing the first hurdle include: CAA-TPG; WME-Silver Lake; KKR and New Mountain Capital; Bain Capital; CVC Capital, the private equity firm joined with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Bahrain’s Mumtalakat. Carlyle "is also moving forward, as is media investor Peter Chernin." Those "thought to be interested but not submitting bids" included Guggenheim Partners, Colony Capital, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Providence Equity (N.Y. POST, 10/8).

Star TV has spent more than $2.9B in buying cricket broadcasting rights, "which has made it the undisputed leader in the segment," according to Surajeet Das Gupta of the Indian BUSINESS STANDARD. Now, "it wants to go one step forward by grabbing sponsorship rights of cricket tournaments." The reason "is simple but elegant: it wants to position the Star brand in such a way that it becomes synonymous with cricket in India." It is the second time that Star "has decided to tread beyond broadcasting." Last year, it paid "a hefty" Rs 100 crore ($16M) for three years to become an associate sponsor of the popular Indian Premier League. Explaining the strategy behind the dalliance with title sponsorship, Star TV India COO Sanjay Gupta said, "We are betting big on sports, of which cricket is the most dominant content. There is a big potential to expand its share of total viewership. We want to identify Star closely with cricket." Star TV is the biggest cricket broadcaster in India -- "the hub of world cricket." Its nearest rival, Sony, has spent $1.6B to acquire broadcast rights, "but has only one property in its kitty: IPL till 2017." So "why is Star TV putting so much money into the game?" Many broadcasters "have burnt their fingers in cricket." The risks "come with immense potential for growth for those who have the cash to stay put." To begin with, "despite the criticism and fears," cricket constitutes over 10% of the annual TV advertising pie, currently estimated at around Rs 14,000 crore ($2.3B). Also, unlike general entertainment channels, which draw 60% of their revenues from advertising, subscription constitutes more than 60% of a sports channel's revenue. The key problem, according to Gupta, is that sports channels have only a 4% market share "of the total broadcasting viewership pie." One reason for the low viewership of sports programs is that "the commentary has so far been almost exclusively in English, which has limited appeal." Gupta: "We are now trying to break this by introducing commentary in Hindi which has huge reach in markets like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, and broadens the viewership reach" (BUSINESS STANDARD, 10/8).

U.S. pocket lighter maker Zippo said Tuesday that "it will extinguish a social media campaign tied to a mishap with the Olympic torch after Russian officials expressed concern over possible unauthorized use of the emblem for the Sochi Winter Games," according to RIA NOVOSTI. Zippo Global Marketing Dir David Warfel said, "It was never meant to imply that somehow we had any relationship or sponsorship with the Olympic committee at all." Zippo "launched what appeared to be a tongue-in-cheek campaign on Facebook and Twitter after the Olympic flame went out as famous Soviet-era swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan carried the torch through the Kremlin on Sunday in the opening stage of the nationwide relay." When Karapetyan began beckoning for help, "a plainclothes officer rekindled the torch with a lighter that the company says appeared to be a Zippo lighter." Zippo proceeded to splash the image of the officer reigniting the flame across its Facebook page, "where it posted an update Monday with the same image that had garnered more than 4,000 likes and 1,200 shares as of Tuesday afternoon." Warfel said that "the company has decided to scrub the images and its social media posts related to the Olympic torch flameout later Tuesday after a meeting of its social media team" (RIA NOVOSTI, 10/8). The MOSCOW TIMES reported Zippo "may face legal action for publishing a photo of the Olympic torch being relit using one of its lighters," because it did not have permission to display the Olympic logo. Sochi Organizing Committee President Dmitry Chernyshenko said that it is not yet known what administrative or legal steps the Games' organizers can take against the company, "which used the registered Sochi-2014 imagery without permission." The organizing committee "is working on it," Chernyshenko "wrote on his Twitter blog" (MOSCOW TIMES, 10/9).  

Bundesliga club FSV Mainz 05 has extended its sponsorship deal with financial institute VR-Bank Mainz for another season. The bank will continue to have its logo on a board at the Coface Arena. VR-Bank Mainz has been a partner of the club since '11 (FSV Mainz). ... Telecom operator Etisalat "was on Wednesday announced as an official national supporter" of the FIFA U17 World Cup, which will kick off in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 17 (GULF NEWS, 10/9). ... Nike, the official apparel sponsor of the Indian cricket team, "unveiled the new limited-overs Team India uniform that will debut during the India - Australia series" beginning Thursday (Indian BUSINESS STANDARD, 10/9).