Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany responded "swiftly" to a report in which a sports consultant said that Fox Sports "should be doing more to help make over Super Rugby in Australia," according to Robinson & Decent of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The story "struck a raw nerve" at the top of the organization and "precipitated a number of heated phone calls to rugby types on Wednesday." Consultant Colin Smith, from Global Media & Sports, said that Foxtel had "neglected" Super Rugby and had its "hands off the tiller." Despite being offered the chance to comment before the story was published, Delany released a statement saying, "The issues that rugby faces are issues for those who run the game, and that is not us. Fox Sports is a broadcaster. We do not run sports. To suggest we should grab anyone else's tiller is inappropriate. We are here to support our partners and will of course, respond if asked for advice. We provide the platform and the megaphone for the game" (SMH, 5/24).
With the 2018 World Cup starting in three weeks in Russia, the marketing campaign for the global football tournament is "ramping up," according to Jason Lynch of AD WEEK. FIFA is "rolling out several new spots that play up the excitement" that young football fans have for the upcoming tournament. Mandalay Sports Media created five promos for the World Cup, which will launch later this week and will air through June on Fox Sports, FS1, Telemundo and FIFA's int'l broadcast partners. Mandalay Sports Media EVP Jon Weinbach said, "This was a dream assignment." FIFA had asked for "a promo campaign that could spotlight their archival footage in an original way and get fans excited about World Cup 2018." Weinbach, who produced the spots, worked with director Matt Ogens (who has directed campaigns for Ford, Toyota and Coors Light) and editor Dan Marks to juxtapose historical World Cup highlights with modern-day footage of kids, who are "dreaming" about past and present football players. Weinbach said, "The World Cup is the platform where players -- and coaches and others -- become legends, and that's how we came up with the tagline: 'Legends Made Here.'" This was Mandalay's first time working with FIFA on a promo campaign, though the company had previously talked with FIFA's exec in charge of original content, James Reilly, about a documentary project. FIFA "greenlit" the campaign in March and Mandalay had to deliver it in early May (AD WEEK, 5/24).
Scotland's men's rugby team's 2018 Summer Tour "will be screened live" on the BBC and Channel 4, according to David Gunn of the SCOTSMAN. The team will play three fixtures next month, with the North American tests against Canada on June 9 and the U.S. on June 16 both being broadcast live on the BBC. The final match, against Argentina on June 23, will be aired on Channel 4. Meanwhile, Scotland's '19 Summer Test Series was "rejigged," with Scotland traveling to face France on Aug. 17 before hosting Les Bleus at BT Murrayfield on Aug. 24. Scotland will then travel to Tbilisi to take on Georgia at the Dinamo Arena on Aug. 31 before hosting the Lelos at BT Murrayfield on Sept. 6 and 7 (SCOTSMAN, 5/24).
Comedian David Walliams "teamed up" with young actor Billy Jenkins to launch "Horsing Around," a series of comedy sketches to promote racing's U18s Race Free promotion. The two feature in five short episodes showcasing a day at the races. Walliams plays the "embarrassing father" of Jenkins in the sketches set on a racecourse (GREAT BRITISH RACING, 5/24).
BT Sport will air this year’s Champions League final in 4K Ultra HD for the first time as part of a trial of 4K UHD TV on Virgin Media’s platform. BT Sport’s coverage of the match between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine, this Saturday will be the "first time live football has been broadcast in 4K UHD on Virgin TV and will be available in a variety of ways to Virgin TV customers" (DIGITAL TV EUROPE, 5/23).
BBC Test Match Special secured the rights to broadcast ball-by-ball coverage of the Int'l Cricket Council Cricket World Cup 2019, to be held in England and Wales next year. Test Match Special will be broadcast to fans on multiple platforms across the U.K., including on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra, Radio 4 Long Wave and the BBC Sport website (ICC).
Orange is preparing to launch exclusive sports channels in Slovakia showing competitions including the Champions League. The move is reportedly being handled by O2 Czech Republic, which has already asked the Slovak regulator RRTV via its O2TV subsidiary for a satellite license for the new channels (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 5/24).