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Volume 10 No. 25


Football Federation Australia signed an int'l media rights deal with IMG. The multi-million dollar deal gives IMG the right to market the A-League, FFA Cup and W-League, as well as some Socceroos and Matildas matches, to broadcasters around the world for six years from the '17-18 season. The IMG agreement complements FFA's new domestic broadcast arrangements made with Fox Sports, Foxtel and News Corp. in Dec. '16. The final part of FFA's broadcast rights, a deal with an Australian free-to-air broadcaster, is still being negotiated (IMG). 

Tuesday night's episode of HBO's "Real Sports" looks at the future of bullfighting in Spain. Reporter Jon Frankel speaks to famous matador Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez and several other prominent figures in the sport about its cultural standing in Spain and how growing opposition could impact its future. Frankel spoke to SBD Global about the timing of the piece and the atmosphere around bullfights, among other topics. HBO's look at the issue will air just days after Spanish bullfighter Iván Fandiño died after being gored by a bull in southwest France. Frankel said that he believes Fandiño's death will have little impact on the story aside from putting bullfighting on people's minds. He added, "I don't believe this gives those opposed to bullfighting any more ammunition largely because their arguments against bullfighting are based on the cruelty to the animals."
SBD Global: What is the piece's main point of emphasis?
Jon Frankel: We spend a good amount of time telling you what this sport is about, literally the A's, B's and C's and how it works. We take you behind and show you the matador coming into the ring, we show you the matador who prays and has a small shrine in his hotel room as he's getting dressed, because the possibility of death is ever-present. And then we segue into, 'Hey, how long is this going to be around?'

SBD Global: Why was HBO interested in looking at the sport at this particular time?
Frankel: The same thing [that was the case with a February episode about cockfighting] applies to bullfighting. Many people have been to a bullfight at one point or another and don't know a whole lot about it. You're talking about a cultural tradition that goes back several hundred years and you have the same animal rights activist issues involved. When you ask, 'Why now?' ... it's been happening for a couple of years now. It goes back to 2012, when Barcelona banned it, so it doesn't take place there. The animal rights political party is gaining momentum. They won something like 1,000 seats across all of Spain in the latest elections that they held. So not enough to give them any real influence yet in government, but certainly gaining momentum. We're also not in the heart of a season for any one of the major sports. 

Coming soon in SBD Global
Frankel talks about his work on last year's award-winning "Lord of the Rings" segment and the future of the Olympics.

SBD Global: How would you describe the atmosphere during your trip to Seville?
Frankel: One of the great things is that it's sort of a mix of US Open Tennis meeting Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. If you hit it the week that we hit it, which is the big festival in Seville, it is a week-long festival. All the people, no matter where you go in the city -- and it's not just limited to those who have money -- the women put on traditional dresses and the men put on their suits that were worn 50, 60 or 100 years ago and their big brimmed hats. It really does look like you're shooting sort of a Spaghetti Western in terms of the clothing. ... It's just an incredible sight when you get to experience the culture in that way.

Frankel, left, and matador Juan José Padilla.
SBD Global: What do you foresee for the future of bullfighting?
Frankel: It would seem that the traditions are hard to run away from. My guess is that over time, it will peter out, though there still are a lot of people who are making a living off of it. When you watch what happens in Seville in this one week at this festival, you see that they're not so quick to change this. Even the matadors, when you ask them the question, what they'll say is, 'Well, I hope ...' And hope is one thing, but I think in their minds, when they think about it intellectually, they have to know that ultimately this is going to come to an end. Part of that is you just look at the landscape. Today's youth revere the soccer stars in Spain. They don't so much revere the matador and they don't relate to it either. They might have grown up with it, but as Cayetano [Rivera Ordóñez] says, 'They're so busy playing video games and sitting behind a computer, they don't understand -- and maybe they don't want to understand -- the realities of life and death.' If you don't appreciate that component of it, then how long does this sport have?

ESPN acquired the broadcast rights to tennis' US Open in Australia and New Zealand under a five-year agreement beginning in August. ESPN will be the exclusive broadcaster for all matches leading to the quarterfinals. From there, ESPN will simulcast the quarterfinals night sessions, semifinals and finals, alongside SBS. ESPN will show 150 hours of live TV coverage across ESPN and ESPN2, plus 1,300 hours streaming on WatchESPN, with matches from up to 12 courts. All of the key matches will be broadcast live on ESPN and ESPN2. Additionally, will be running comprehensive digital coverage from a team of reporters on site (ESPN).

The NFL's European expansion plans "will get a boost this fall from the league's over-the-top service, NFL Game Pass," according to John Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The league hired Bruin Sports Capital and British advertising company WPP to help it grow the OTT NFL Game Pass service on the continent. Until last year, the NFL managed its European Game Pass service in-house from L.A. This fall, the OTT service "will start to roll out a service that will be tailored for different European markets" -- both through on-screen statistics and marketing campaigns. Through relationships with Bruin and WPP, Italian media company Deltatre (which is owned by Bruin) will handle the technical operations of NFL Game Pass in 61 European countries and territories. Sports marketing agency Two Circles (which is owned by WPP) will market the service. No decision has been made on pricing, "but prices are likely to continue to vary across the different European markets." One of the reasons the NFL opted to do this deal was the opportunity to "reach deeper into specific markets, thanks to the infrastructure WPP and Bruin already have in Europe." NFL Exec VP/Int'l Mark Waller said, "We only have one office in London. We'll now be able to tap into offices in Berlin, Rome, Madrid." Terms of the deal, "which is expected to be announced formally this week," will have Bruin and WPP jointly forming a London-based company to manage the service (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/19 issue).

BoxNation "won the British television rights for the long-awaited mega-fight" between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 16. The dedicated subscription network will launch its new pay-per-view platform for the "most anticipated fight" since Mayweather vs. Pacquiao in '15 (London DAILY MAIL, 6/19).

The Australian Football League Players' Association will launch a new well-being and resilience smartphone app known as MindMax on Wednesday. AFL players Michael Walters, Daniel Menzel, Ed Curnow and Majak Daw have been involved in the development of MindMax, an initiative funded by the Movember Foundation. The app combines the personal experience of AFL players with regularly-updated training sessions, games and social interaction to help users build, strengthen and maintain healthy and fit minds (AFLPA). 

UFC is planning to "innovate its broadcast model with the introduction of a new in-fight statistics system that will deliver an array of real-time data to viewers." Speaking at a session at Cannes Lions, WME CEO Ari Emanuel discussed how UFC is "aiming to build a data business in part by placing sensors on athletes' gloves, shorts and throughout the arena." UFC President Dana White said, "We're working on a lot of stats. We want to see the best knockout -- it's perfect for social media" (THE DRUM, 6/19).

The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA from NBC Universal will launch in the U.S. on July 15 in "more than 35 million homes." The linear cable channel "will be available to most subscribers" of Altice, AT&T DirecTV, Comcast, Spectrum and Verizon at launch. The linear channel will "also be also be available at launch on streaming services, including DirecTV Now, Fubo, Hulu, Sony PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV" (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 6/18).