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Volume 6 No. 214


ESPN named Ventra Media Group as its ad sales representative in Nigeria. Ventra Media Group specializes in delivering digital marketing and commercialization services for premium brands and rights owners in Africa. Headed by CEO Daryn Wober, Ventra has experience in advertising, marketing and business development. Nigerian sports fans logged nearly 828 million minutes and 116 million visits to ESPN digital media properties in '13. Total visits to ESPN properties via mobile devices were up 23% compared to '12. Digital video also grew in '13 (ESPN).

Sky Sports' coverage of F1 tops the BBC's and has indulged racing fans like never before, while the arrival of BT as a significant rival in the pay sports TV market has simply “spurred us on,” Sky Sports Managing Dir Barney Francis said. Since '12, Sky has shared the U.K. coverage of F1 with the BBC in a deal that runs until '18. Speaking of the dedicated F1 channel Sky created, Francis said, “We decided let’s indulge the F1 fan like they have never been indulged before. And when it comes to race day, when we are exclusive, then that’s great.”

A UNIQUE POV: Francis, speaking at the SportsPro Live conference in London on Thursday, stressed, however, that when the races are being simulcasted with the BBC, it is important to have a point of view different than the BBC. He added, “And that is where talent, innovation and a slightly different editorial approach is needed.” Francis said that Sky’s coverage was more appealing to F1 fans than the BBC's, saying there was no point trying to "mimic" its rival’s coverage. Francis was also questioned about the arrival of BT as a genuine contender in the U.K. sports-pay market. He said, “Listen, it spurs us on. We always say that. It makes us try new things. It pushes us harder. The fact that our Premier League viewing is so strong this year gives you indication of how we’ve progressed since they [BT] came on board.” To support his argument, Francis pointed to what he claimed was Sky’s strong Premier League end-of-season program of games, countering suggestions that it was BT which had landed the better end-of-season games.
John Reynolds is a writer in London.

The Korea LPGA "has been accused of selling tournament broadcast rights that fattened its own coffers at the expense of sponsors, advertisers and golfers," according to the KOREA JOONGANG DAILY. In February, the KLPGA, under the leadership of Chair Koo Ja-yong, "sold exclusive broadcast rights for three seasons" to cable TV channel SBS Golf for 14.5B won ($13.6M). Instead of a secret ballot, which the association traditionally used, Koo suggested in a February board meeting, “Why don’t we just sell them to the one who pays the most. Let’s have a show of hands.” An exec level source said, “We couldn’t say anything against Koo’s suggestion due to the awkward atmosphere in that meeting room.” Since SBS Golf became the exclusive KLPGA channel, "frustration has grown among the many sponsors and golf equipment manufacturers that commit tens of billions of won to tournaments as part of their marketing strategy." A KLPGA sponsor spokesperson said, “We can’t find a reason to spend 1.5 billion won per year to sponsor tournaments that only air on one channel. We are seriously considering ending the sponsorship.” Disgruntled sponsors "aren’t the only problem." Since SBS wants to make a return on its investment, the network "raised ad rates for its golf channel and angered advertisers." A golf equipment brand marketing director said, “The season hasn’t begun yet, but the markup on advertisement rates is huge.” The father of an active golfer "also complained about the decision." The father said, “It’s not good for players, either. Fewer channels for tournaments erodes the promotion effects for sponsors" (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 3/14).

German public broadcaster ZDF "recorded disappointing ratings for its broadcast of the Champions League game between Bayer Leverkusen and Paris St. Germain on Wednesday night," according to Manuel Weis of QUOTENMETER. A total of 4.58 million viewers tuned in starting at 8:45pm. The number translated into a market share of 15.7%. In the target demographic, Paris' 2-1 victory obtained a 10.5% share on ZDF (QUOTENMETER, 3/13).

SingTel announced that "it has inked an exclusive deal" with the FIFA for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to the STRAITS TIMES. Under the Media Development Authority's cross-carriage rule, SingTel "has to share the content with StarHub" in the same way that it is sharing its EPL content. All 64 matches "will be available 'live' and on-demand on tablets and smartphones through the company's app, mio TV GO." It "will also feature multicamera views in a World Cup first for Singapore." SingTel mio TV said that "it is finalising a deal to share the World Cup with everyone through free-to-air coverage for key matches." These matches "will also be available for free on mobile devices for the first time." The pay-TV provider added that "it is also working with Community Clubs island-wide to explore screening selected matches," just as it did for the EPL season  (STRAITS TIMES, 3/12).