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Volume 6 No. 192

People and Pop Culture

NBC Sports Group Digital CTO ERIC BLACK oversees the broadcaster's digital division, Playmaker Media, which it created in May '16. A number of U.S. clubs and organizations including USA Swimming use Playmaker Media to stream their events, and the service also provides live streaming video support for the IOC’s Olympic Channel. Black spoke to SBD Global about Playmaker Media's partnership with Liga MX side Chivas Guadalajara's Chivas TV and his thoughts on Playmaker Media's first year.

On new features Playmaker Media has helped Chivas TV introduce ...
Eric Black: I don't like to predict the future or give out roadmaps, but I can talk about some of the things that we're seeing right now that you didn't see last year. We've launched natively. Last year they were a desktop-only solution. We've deployed not just desktop, but native iOS and Android solutions for them as well in-market. We also launched data integration, so we're leveraging data feeds and doing data overlays for all of their games moving forward. It's really enhancing the Chivas TV experience, not just with video, but how do we go beyond the video? ... We're pretty early into the season, but from what we're seeing from customer feedback and social media, the fans love it. Everyone's really excited about the new features and functionality. We'll continue to look to expand that offering and evaluate other options in the future, but just out of the gate, to get natively on two additional platforms for them and data integration ... it's a much better offering from a product perspective than what they had the previous season.

On how the deal with Chivas TV came about ...
Black: We were familiar with it. It's a pretty revolutionary model for them, and certainly down in Mexico. We were looking at that and were pretty excited about what they were doing. It's certainly something we're excited to be a part of. Earlier this year, we started conversation more broadly about how we could potentially partner and power Chivas TV and their solution in the [Mexican] market. They also stream internationally as well, so how we could leverage the learnings of NBC Sports Group and Playmaker Media and apply that specifically to the market in Mexico.

On Playmaker Media helping Chivas TV avoid technical difficulties ...
Black: It wouldn’t be fair for me to talk about their performance last year, it's probably better for them. It's fair to say that we bring a level of stability and we certainly have a track record of performance that was attractive to them with our U.S. offerings and global offerings and what we're doing in-market. I think the technology really made a lot of sense. The other thing I'd probably point to is how we've been more invested in the direct-to-consumer space, both with NBC Sports Gold and our work with NASCAR TrackPass internationally as well.

On whether he expects more teams to follow the model of Chivas TV ...
Black: You're starting to see some of that in the news right now. Not from us, but you're reading a lot about people that are exploring that model. This has been a really interesting time for the industry because people are exploring a lot of different things. I think you will look back and see them as a really revolutionary brand that's trying something very unique and very different. Other brands are evaluating this. Some have jumped in, some are looking at it. It makes a lot of sense.

On Playmaker Media's first year ...
Black: It's been an exciting year. We're staying true to what we envisioned this to be, which is being very strategic with the offering and with our partners. Chivas is a great example of that. Some others that we've launched with, NASCAR TrackPass -- that's an international offering in 120 countries. ... We're staying really true to what we started with, which was really strategic offerings where we can really prove out some new models and lead the industry, not just sign up 200 clients on a rate card. We're really looking for partners that are trying to change the space. We've got a good stable of those right now and are looking forward to the future as well.

Hangin' With runs each Friday in SBD Global.

PR agency Brazil's dedicated new sport division, Brazil Sport, will be led by JAMES GWINNETT, who was promoted to head of sport. Gwinnett's experience "spans a decade of working with sport brands" including Land Rover, BT Sport, QBE and Heineken Int'l (SPORT INDUSTRY, 8/17).

COACHES/MANAGERS: National League side Torquay is the first club in the top five English leagues to sack its manager this season, with KEVIN NICHOLSON "leaving his post 12 days into the campaign." The 36-year-old, who had acted as the club's player-manager since Sept. '15, "made close to 400 appearances" for the club (PA, 8/17). ... South Korea women's football team Manager YOON DUK-YEO signed an extension that will "keep him at the helm for two more years." Yoon, 56, signed a contract with the Korea FA that will "see him lead" the women's team through the 2019 Women's World Cup (YONHAP, 8/17).

Nigerian billionaire ALIKO DANGOTE's "first order of business if he succeeds" in buying Arsenal will be to fire Manager ARSÈNE WENGER. Dangote, Africa's richest man with a net worth of $11.1B, has "coveted the team since becoming a supporter." He said, "The first thing I would change is the coach. He has done a good job, but someone else should also try his luck" (BLOOMBERG, 8/17). ... English golfer LAURA DAVIES "will become the first woman to compete in a men's European Senior Tour event." The 53-year-old will "join former Masters champion IAN WOOSNAM in the Shopco Masters," which will take place in Denmark from June 1-3 next year (BBC, 8/16). ... USAIN BOLT will be "prevented from achieving his lifelong dream" of playing for ManU by the hamstring injury sustained in his farewell race. ManU Legends will take on their Barcelona counterparts at Old Trafford on Sept. 2 in a charity match, raising money for the ManU Foundation (PA, 8/17). ... Romania Fed Cup captain ILIE NASTASE has appealed after being banned from official roles by the Int'l Tennis Federation until '21. The sanction "followed his tirade" at a Fed Cup match in Bucharest in April (BBC, 8/17). ... Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN signed a decree on Thursday granting Russian citizenship to Australian track cyclist SHANE PERKINS, who is a two-time World Champion and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist (TASS, 8/17). ... Double track world champion and Olympic Silver Medalist BECKY JAMES retired at the age of 25. The Welsh athlete won the world sprint and keirin titles in '13 and took Silver at the same events at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She intends to set up a baking business "along with exciting other projects" (BBC, 8/17). ... The Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) announced SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ tested positive for growth hormone releasing peptide GHRP-2. The "adverse analytical finding" is from an out-of-competition test performed on Aug. 9 (CYCLING NEWS, 8/17). ... Portuguese side Sporting President BRUNO DE CARVALHO was suspended for six months "after being accused of spitting on" Arouca President CARLOS PINHO on Nov. 6. De Carvahlo denied "spitting on Pinho," saying that he "blew smoke from an electronic cigarette" (EFE, 8/16).

TROPHY NAME: Former French int'l THIERRY HENRY suggested the Premier League trophy should be named after ALEX FERGUSON to honor the Scot's "unprecedented domestic success" with ManU. Ferguson, 75, retired from football in '13 after winning the last of his 13 Premier League titles as ManU's manager (London TELEGRAPH, 8/17).