Sports marketing agency Euromericas released a study showing that Lionel Messi is the footballer with the most influence on social media, according to SPORT. Messi is followed on the list by Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Andrés Iniesta of Barcelona and ManU's Wayne Rooney. Messi, "with 93 million Facebook friends, is the clear social media winner, without having an official Twitter account." Ronaldo has 24 million Twitter followers and 68 million on Facebook. The "videos of his top plays and photos from games are well recognized in the virtual world." Neymar's "continuous posting of photos on all his official accounts is making him steadily grow more and more in this world." He has 25 million followers on Facebook and 9 million on Twitter and "experienced an inflection point when he joined Barcelona." Iniesta "is in fourth place with 16 million Facebook followers and 8 million Twitter followers." Rooney is "more active on Facebook than on Twitter and tends to post photos after every game, with his 18 million Facebook followers putting him in fifth place" (SPORT, 3/31).
A French court "has rejected" the attempt of pay-TV channel Canal+ "to prevent the French Professional Football League" (LFP) from starting the tendering process for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 TV rights for three seasons beginning in '16, according to DIGITAL TV EUROPE. The Paris court "decided that there was no evidence to warrant an immediate ruling on the matter." Canal+ "filed for an immediate suspension of the call for bids on the grounds that making such a call two years ahead of the relevant period raises competition concerns." Canal+ complained that "kicking off the bidding process so far in advance could result in losing subscribers or failing to gain new customers" as a result of the uncertainty about the future of the rights. This "could be the case if Canal+'s rival beIN Sport, owned by Al Jazeera, wins a significant portion of the rights" (DIGITAL TV EUROPE, 3/31).
TVG network, which sends live feeds of races into 36 million North American homes, "will accept betting for weekend Sha Tin programme," according to Alan Aitken of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. After years of negotiations, commingling of bets on Hong Kong racing "will start" on the TVG network in the U.S. this weekend. It will "begin to accept win, place, quinella and tierce betting" on Sunday's Sha Tin program from its U.S. customers. Jockey Club Exec Dir of Racing Bill Nader said, "Everything is in place to start on Sunday and I'm 99-point-something percent sure that it will" (SCMP, 3/31).
German pay-TV channel Sky "recorded high ratings for its Bundesliga broadcasts on Saturday despite the fact that the title race has already been decided," according to Alexander Krei of DWDL. An average of 1.13 million viewers tuned in to watch Sky's simulcast or one of its individual game feeds starting at 3:30pm. In the target demographic 14-49, the games attracted a market share of 14.5%, which "was the second-highest number since Jan. 1." Saturday's late game between SC Freiburg and FC Nuremberg, which started at 6:30pm, attracted 490,000 viewers. It "was the smallest viewership number of the season." The game had a market share of 2.9% in the target demographic.
HANDBALL: Pan-European sports network Eurosport attracted an average of 230,000 viewers to its broadcast of the handball Champions League game between THW Kiel and HC Motor Zaporozhye on Sunday evening. The game, which started at 5pm, obtained a market share of 1.7%. In the target demographic, Kiel's 40-28 win had a 0.9% share. The game between HSV Hamburg and HC Vardar-Skopje was watched by 220,000 viewers.
BASKETBALL: German sports network Sport1 obtained a market share of 1.5% in the target demographic for its Basketball Bundesliga broadcast. A total 110,000 viewers tuned in to watch Sport1's coverage (DWDL, 3/31).
The European Broadcast Union and the Int'l Ski Federation (FIS) "have agreed on a new contract, which guarantees the broadcast of the FIS Ski Flying World Championships until '20" (DWDL, 3/31). ... The contract between German sports network Sport1 and the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) "will expire at the end of the season." The BBL "is hoping for increased income from a new deal." BBL President Thomas Braumann said that there are "more than three" candidates (DWDL, 3/31). ... Media agency IEC in Sports will broadcast the best-of-seven Swedish Hockey League finals beginning April 14 on TV, mobile and the Internet. The Kontinental Hockey League HD TV channel will show the SHL in Russia and CIS countries for the first time (Lagardère).