Amazon will globally release to a film about Super Rugby side Leeds Rhinos "as it battles Netflix in the growing digital market" for sports programs, according to Adam Sherwin of INEWS. Narrated by Leeds-born actor Matthew Lewis, the story of “sacrifice and the agonising pursuit of a legacy” will premier at a sold out screening at the Everyman Cinema in Leeds on April 30, as part of the Leeds Int'l Festival 2018 of new ideas and innovation. It will then be released by Amazon Prime Video in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, as well as the U.S. and Canada, "where rugby league is a minority interest." It tells the story of the Rhinos' attempt to win a "treble" -- the Super League grand final, the League leaders' shield and the Challenge Cup -- a "landmark which would mark the break-up of the team" (INEWS, 4/20).
Tencent announced it is producing a live-action TV series around its mobile multiplayer online battle arena game, Honor of Kings, according to Graham Ashton of THE ESPORTS OBSERVER. The scripted show will reportedly be "centered around the game's esports scene, following a Chinese teenager on his path to become a professional player as he attempts to walk the footsteps of an older brother whose gaming career ended in tragedy." The TV series, which currently has no release date, will be an adaptation of a serial story published by a "famed online novelist in China." It is not the first time HoK has been the focus of a TV series -- "Kings Attack" is a game show broadcast through Tencent's video-streaming service, Tencent Video, that "essentially recreates the MOBA on a film set, with famous actors and other celebrities" (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 4/25).
MAGIC LAUNCH: THE ESPORTS OBSERVER's Ferguson Mitchell reported board and card game developer Wizards of the Coast is partnering with Tencent "to handle the Asia launch" of the upcoming "Magic: The Gathering Arena" video game, among others. Tencent will be the game's exclusive digital publisher in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. Arena is Wizards' "latest take on developing a digital version" of its popular, 20-year-old card game (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 4/26).
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The NBA struck a long-term agreement with Perform Media in which the digital sports content company and Goal.com parent will manage official league websites in more than 15 int'l markets, including India, Japan, Canada and Spain. The deal builds significantly upon a prior relationship in which Perform managed NBA online destinations in Germany and Australia. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is for a minimum of six years with a series of options beyond that. Perform will gain digital inventory on the int'l NBA websites to sell against, relying in part on an internal sales team that also sells inventory for Goal.com. It also will help the league promote subscriptions to the NBA League Pass package. The NBA previously operated its int'l websites through a series of locally-based arrangements, including the smaller pact with Perform. Some of those will remain in place. The league also is in the midst of a long-term relationship with Turner Sports for the management of its digital properties domestically. “This presents an opportunity to lean on the expertise of Perform to help scale this international business,” said NBA Senior VP/Global Media Distribution & Business Operations Matt Brabants. Perform will oversee both editorial and commercial operations for the int'l sites. The deal contemplates a potential expansion beyond its current base of 20 localized, int'l websites. “The ad sales component of this is certainly a key element of this. But we’re also really enthused about getting into the League Pass part of it and expanding the base for that product,” said Perform Media CEO Juan Delgado. “We’re looking forward to being an integral part of the growth we’re seeing for the NBA around the world.”
A man was ordered to pay £45,000 ($62,700) in fines and damages for the "illegal distribution of Sky Sports." Waqas Rasheed shared streams from (the then) Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2. The streams were found on IPTVdonations.com, an illegally-run IPTV subscription service. He claimed to have "inadvertently" created the streams while trying to access Sky content online for free (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 4/26).
Digital football platform Dugout announced an $11.6M investment. The investment was led by Olympique de Marseille Owner Frank McCourt and his brother David McCourt, CEO of Granahan McCourt Capital, alongside other strategic smaller-scale investors. The investment will help the company expand its existing operations as well as its partnership plans to enhance its technology offering and support growth in the MENA region (Dugout).
Video game loot boxes are "in violation of gambling legislation," according to the Belgium Gaming Commission. Loot boxes give "random rewards" and can be acquired through gameplay or by spending real cash. Those that can be bought for real money "must now be removed from video games in Belgium" (BBC, 4/26).
DAZN secured the rights to show the rematch between British boxers Tony Bellew and David Haye in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The fight will take place on May 5 at London's O2 Arena (DAZN).