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Issue 92

Issue 92


Digital and data: Live sport goes social


PyeongChang 2018: One year to go




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44 COVER STORY 44 Last one standing Founded in 2011 by Chatri Sityodtong and Victor Cui, Asia’s ONE Championship has grown in just over five years to achieve a billion-dollar valuation. SportsPro went behind the scenes at the mixed martial arts promotion’s final event of 2016 in Manila to find out how this startup became a leading player in the fight game.

FEATURES 34 SportsPro Stories: So much winning Perhaps no American president has taken office with as deep a history in sport as Donald Trump, and his misadventures in the industry are revealing.

The Winter X Games will host its second edition in Norway in 2017, after celebrating two decades in the US last year. With a captive young audience and any amount of social media-friendly content, its organisers believe the event can lead the way in a new digital-first world.

38 The 10 influencers After the tumult of 2016, the patterns that will define the year ahead are emerging. SportsPro profiles ten people who will shape the sports industry in 2017, across politics, the media, and beyond.

52 Snow time


58 X-factor

With one year to go until PyeongChang’s Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games get underway, the preparations in South Korea are entering their final stretch. Despite political and commercial turbulence, the feeling within the local organising committee is optimistic.

62 Shared experience The availability and use of social video has exploded in recent years and now, more and more fans are using social media to watch sport as it happens. The move to live is creating a wealth of new opportunities for connection and measurement.

68 Social viewing As social and digital platforms make further strides towards becoming live broadcast players, SportsPro looks at where the sector’s biggest hitters stand and where they plan to go.

SportsPro Magazine | 3


AT THE FRONT 6 8 10 12 14

Editor’s Letter The Long Read Notes and Observations The Matt Slater Column Digest Back to the future . . . How Budapest’s 2024 bid cleverly fits a modern Olympics into an ancient ideal


Ralph Ellis


Putting the ‘Why’ into sporting brands Alex Crimmens


74 Monument to progress Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the ownership group that dominates the Washington DC sports market, is going over the top and experimenting with its latest broadcast oering: Monumental Sports Network.

78 Arrows pointing up With darts undergoing a European renaissance, SportsPro soaks up the raucous atmosphere at Alexandra Palace for the biggest ever edition of the Professional Darts Corporation William Hill World Darts Championship.

84 The Profile: Just about managing As the founder of International Sports Management, Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler has been the architect of countless sporting careers over a quarter of a century. Yet his own career continues to evolve, with new clients, a burgeoning interest in horse racing, and a role in setting up the Turkish Airlines Open.

90 Bases overseas After an unforgettable, historic year on the ďŹ eld in 2016, the mood at Major League Baseball is buoyant. For Chris Park, senior vice president of growth, strategy and international, the challenge now is to make America’s revitalised pastime a global force.

96 SmartSeries: Smart data Sport creates countless points of contact between fans and the teams and events they care about most. It is becoming possible to build up ever more meaningful data proďŹ les of individual supporters and meet them on their own terms.

20 22 24 26 32

Premature Facts Movers and Shakers SportsPro World Gallery The Shot: Barack Obama

AT THE BACK 104 106 110 112 114

Deals Review Sponsorship Deals Index Unofficial Partner Jottings

102 Company profile: Automatic for the people Live content creation can create a wealth of opportunities but doing it eectively can be beyond the reach of some sporting bodies, and eat into the budgets of bigger organisations. A new automated broadcast production tool from Mediapro aims to change that.


SportsPro (ISSN 1756 5340), (Issue 92) is published monthly by SportsPro Media Ltd and distributed in the USA by Mail Right Int., 1637 Stelton Road B4, Piscataway, NJ 08854. 3HULRGLFDOV3RVWDJH3DLGDW3LVFDWDZD\1-DQGDGGLWLRQDOPDLOLQJRIĂ€FHV POSTMASTER: Send address changes to SportsPro, SportsPro Media, C/o 1637 Stelton Road B4, Piscataway NJ 08854

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A kind of magic


s we careered towards deadline day here at SportsPro Towers, the inevitability grew that this would be another one of Those Columns about all the Big Things that occupy the waking minds of anyone with access to news media, another person, or a window that faces outside. London in January is grim enough without the sense the world’s leaders are collectively intent on making the worst of a bad VLWXDWLRQWDNLQJRQO\WKHYHU\ORXGHVWFRXQVHOIURPWKRVHOHDVWTXDOLÀHGWRVXSSO\LW(YHQWKHVSRUWVLQGXVWU\RIIHUHGDOLWWOHPRUH tumult than is healthy for minds still retuning from their festive addling – and that is before considering the 2024 Olympic race, that cosmic prank on anyone inclined to turn to the back pages for an escape from the worries of the world. But then something happened that, if it didn’t exactly change my perspective, at least gave me different one to write from. ,WUHDOO\LVQ·WWKDWORQJVLQFH(QJOLVKVRFFHU·V)$&XSZDVDWUXO\PDMRUWURSK\RQO\KDOI DVWHSGRZQLQLPSRUWDQFHIURPWKHOHDJXH FKDPSLRQVKLSEXWWKHQUHFHQWHYHQWVKDYHVKRZQMXVWKRZUHODWLYHWKHH[SHULHQFHRI WLPHLV,QWKHDJHRI WKH8HID&KDPSLRQV League, the diamond-heeled Premier League, and whatever Wang Jianlin is cooking up for the decade ahead, it seems like aeons since it mattered that much to those taking part. The insecurity about the status of the world’s oldest living soccer tournament is inescapable. There are the cloying reminiscences about the ‘magic of the cup’, yoked to a small collection of approved memories. Then there are well-meaning attempts to reach young fans that often only emphasise the divide, like a suburban mum buying her kids the wrong Playstation game at Christmas. $OORI ZKLFKLVDVKDPHEHFDXVHDWLWVFRUHWKHFXSFRQFHSWLVURFNVROLG²DQGQHYHUPRUHVRWKDQZKHQLWEDVNVLQLWV DQDFKURQLVWLFFDSDFLW\IRUWKHXQVFULSWHG,WVGHÀDQWO\RSHQHQGHGUDQGRPGUDZWXUQVXSLWVVKDUHRI GXGVEXWDWLWVEHVWLWSURGXFHV WLHVOLNHWKRVHWKDWOLWWHU)HEUXDU\·VÀIWKURXQG)RUWKRVHXQDZDUHWZRVHPLSURIHVVLRQDOVLGHVZLOOSOD\3UHPLHU/HDJXHRSSRVLWLRQ VKRUWO\DIWHUWKLVPDJD]LQHLVSXEOLVKHG/LQFROQ&LW\KHDGWR%XUQOH\DQGHYHQPRUHEULOOLDQWO\WKHJUDQGHHVRI $UVHQDOZLOOWUDYHO VRXWKWKURXJK/RQGRQWRSOD\6XWWRQ8QLWHG *LYHQWKDWRQHRI WKHWKHPHVRI WKH)$&XSVWRU\LVWKHHURVLRQRI WUDGLWLRQDQGWKHSURSULHW\RI IDQVE\XQIHHOLQJFRPPHUFLDO interests, there is a redemptive angle for the industry in all this. Cup runs have always given the littlest teams a welcome source of additional income – particularly, alas, for those drawn away from home. But a team in Sutton’s position can now avail themselves of a EDWWHU\RI LQQRYDWLRQVWKURZQXSE\WKHVSRUWVEXVLQHVVIURPWKHDUWLÀFLDOSLWFKDWWKHLUWLQ\VHDWHUKRPHWRVRFLDOPHGLDWRROV by which to keep all their new friends, to internal communications platforms and better access to sports science. Running a small club is really, really, really hard, but the means to foster a community around it have never been more accessible. That may not be magical, but it’s pretty special all the same.

Well-meaning attempts to reach young fans through the FA Cup often only emphasise the divide, like a suburban mum buying her kids the wrong Playstation game at Christmas.


EDITOR Eoin Connolly





BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGERS Jon Abraham, Bobby Hare, Charlie Barker, Tom Purdy

STAFF WRITERS George Dudley, Dipo Faloyin EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Nick Brookes ART DIRECTOR Daniel Brown PHOTOGRAPHIC AGENCY Action Images MEDIA PARTNER Press Association

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SportsPro magazine is published by: SportsPro Media Ltd 3rd Floor, Two America Square, London EC3N 2LU, UK Tel: +44 (0) 207 549 3250 Fax: +44 (0) 207 549 3255 Email: Web: (SportsPro Media Ltd is part of the Henley Media Group Ltd NOTICES: Issue No 92 SportsPro Magazine (ISSN 1756-5340) is published bi-monthly throughout the year. Printed in the EU.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Available at a cost of UK£199 (Print subscription), and UK£149 (Digital Subscription). Back issues are available for UK£25 and delivered anywhere in the world at no extra charge. Subscriptions are available by logging on to EDITORIAL COPYRIGHT: The contents of this magazine, both words and statistics, are strictly copyright and the intellectual property of SportsPro Media. Copying or reproduction may only be carried out with written permission of the publishers, which will normally not be withheld on payment of a fee. Article reprints: Most articles published in SportsPro Magazine are available as reprints by prior arrangement from the publishers. Normal minimum print run for reprints is 400 copies, although larger and smaller runs are possible. Please contact us at:








IS CONCACAF REALLY A SHOO-IN FOR THE 2026 WORLD CUP? Not so long ago, Concacaf’s name was taboo in soccer circles, tainted by years of bribery and corruption. Now, such is the Fifa way, the confederation looks set to be rewarded with the sport’s greatest prize.


ifa’s decision to expand its World Cup from 32 to 48 teams from 2026 onwards has drawn the inevitable ire of soccer-occupied minds the world over. But while the 48-team proposal LVXQGRXEWHGO\à DZHG²QRWOHDVWLQLWV JURXSVRIWKUHHIRUPDWLWVà DJUDQW disregard for supporter concerns, and its LPSOLFDWLRQVIRUTXDOLI\LQJ²LWLVIDLUWRVD\ there are few complaints coming out of the Western Hemisphere. Take Conmebol, the governing body for South American soccer, for example. If the reports are true, South America could receive at least six World Cup spots under Fifa’s expansion plan. That amounts to some 60 per cent of Conmebol’s tennation membership, a higher proportion than any other confederation. Yet the real winners reside further north, where there is a growing consensus that the USA will now bid for the 2026 tournament either on its own or in conjunction with either or both of its neighbours, Canada and Mexico. In the months leading up to January’s vote, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati UHIXVHGWRFRQÀUPRUUXOHRXWDQ\ bid, joint or otherwise, until Fifa had outlined the campaign rules. Yet it now seems inevitable that a US-led proposal will be forthcoming, especially with Europe and Asia out of the running due to Russia and Qatar’s hosting of 2018 and 2022 respectively. According to Bloomberg, Victor Montagliani, a Fifa vice president elected to Concacaf ’s presidency in May, met for late-night talks with the leaders of the US and Mexican soccer federations in Zurich in early January. It is not clear exactly what was discussed, but Montagliani has since said a formal World Cup proposal could be presented to Concacaf members ahead of Fifa’s next Congress in Bahrain in May. That proposal is likely to be predicated on the fact that the USA, Canada and Mexico all have much of the infrastructure and facilities required to host 48 national WHDPVDQGPDWFKHV²XSIURP²

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already in place. And, as it stands, such a proposal is a compelling one, particularly given only Morocco has so far shown any intention of submitting a rival bid. Incidentally, another entity likely to be rubbing its hands together is Fox Sports. With an expanded slate of teams and matches, the US network’s controversial uncontested February 2015 extension of its deal looks even more of a bargain. Under the 48-team plan, the value of World Cup media rights will LQHYLWDEO\ULVH²SRVVLEO\E\DVPXFK as US$505 million overall, according WR)LID¡VRZQSURMHFWLRQV²DQGLI WKH 2026 tournament is indeed given to North America, it stands to reason that the US rights would be worth far more ²FHUWDLQO\IDUPRUHWKDQWKH86 million Fox paid. More broadly, though, were a Concacaf bid for 2026 to prove successful, it would represent a swift and remarkable change in fortunes for soccer in the Western Hemisphere. Even before those unforgettable raids on Zurich’s Baur au Lac hotel in May 2015, the names of Concacaf and Conmebol were taboo in Fifa circles. Many of Fifa’s top brass, eager to distance themselves from the still-simmering scandal, have willingly pointed out that the federation’s problem was largely an American problem, never mind that its kickback culture was rife elsewhere. “All that corruption was the fault of Americans, south and north,â€? claimed Sepp Blatter, who, slapped with a lengthy ban, sought to vilify “American companiesâ€? that sponsor Fifa for their part in his downfall and branded the USled corruption investigation a direct result of the American “bad losersâ€? missing out on the 2022 World Cup. But herein lies the rub: to the wider world outside of Blatter’s bubble, perhaps even to Gianni Infantino himself, the Americans were seen not as villains, but as heroes. The US authorities, led by the outgoing attorney general Loretta

Lynch and her fellow Feds, were openly thanked by many in the western media, hailed as the only ones powerful enough WRÀQDOO\WDNHGRZQ%ODWWHUDQGHQGKLV stranglehold on the world’s game. In the event, the US found itself imbued ZLWKJUHDWHUJOREDOLQà XHQFH'XULQJODVW February’s Fifa presidential vote, Gulati was widely credited with helping engineer the election of Infantino at the expense of Bahraini powerbroker Sheikh Salman, apparently rallying support for the Swiss EHWZHHQYRWLQJURXQGVDIWHUÀUVWEDFNLQJ Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein. As many as ten Concacaf member federations switched their allegiances in similar fashion. 2QUHà HFWLRQ*XODWL¡VVWULQJSXOOLQJ was a political masterstroke. Not only did he get the president he wanted and, more importantly, a close ally in soccer’s highest H[HFXWLYHRIÀFHEXWLQSXEOLFO\EDFNLQJ the victorious candidate he also succeeded in positioning the USA as the clear frontrunner to host the 2026 World Cup. There will, of course, be those who argue that awarding that event to Concacaf would simply be a sensible idea: an operationally sound, commercially lucrative and wholesomely symbolic move that would help draw a line under the malpractice of previous regimes and serve as a kind of second chance for the much-maligned confederation. After Russia and Qatar, it would certainly return a degree of rationality to the World Cup bidding process. On the other hand, though, it might merely be a case of Concacaf posing the best of a bad bunch of options. But let’s not count our chickens just yet. Let’s give world soccer’s powers WKDWEHWKHEHQHÀWRI WKHGRXEW/HW¡V suspend our disbelief for the time being and accept this is not the done deal many are insisting it is. Much remains up for discussion, after all, and there are no guarantees things will play out as widely SUHGLFWHG²HVSHFLDOO\DW)LID @_MichaelLong

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ON THE BEAT WITH MATT SLATER With the most successful twin teams in British sport under investigation, Press Association’s chief sports reporter asks how far is too far when it comes to pushing for success.



inning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.â€? It’s a quote often attributed to gridiron guru Vince Lombardi and it has become one of the central tenets of American – or “U! S! A!â€? – sport. But it turns out Lombardi was not WKHĂ€UVWWRVD\LWDQGKHPD\HYHQKDYH been trying to say something completely different, which, for me, sums up the confusion surrounding elite sport. Is it all about the ‘W’ and never mind the collateral damage? Or did sporting VQRZĂ DNHVOLNH,QWHUQDWLRQDO2O\PSLF Committee (IOC) founder Pierre de Coubertin have it right when they suggested WKDW´LW¡VWKHWDNLQJSDUWÂľWKDWPDWWHUVPRVW" This is not a choice British sport has had to ponder too many times. Sure, we have had plenty of success over the years, in lots RI GLIIHUHQWĂ€HOGVEXWLWKDVWHQGHGWREH LI QRWĂ HHWLQJWKHQFHUWDLQO\QRWG\QDVWLF Serial and systematic winning has been the NLQGRI YXOJDULW\ZHKDYHOHIWWRRWKHUV Until recently, that is. Fourth, then third, then second in the medal table for Team GB at the last three summer Olympics is sustained success by anybody’s measure, and the same sequence is second, third and second for the British Paralympic team. No single sport has contributed more to this upturn in results than cycling. British ELNHULGHUVKDYHZRQDQGPHGDOV DWWKHODVWWKUHH2O\PSLFVDQGDQG PHGDOVDWWKHODVWWKUHH3DUDO\PSLFV There have also been numerous world titles, four Tour de France victories, lots of other race wins, success in BMX DQGPRXQWDLQELNLQJDQH[SORVLRQLQ the number of people riding, more UDFHVVWDJHGKHUHPRUHELNHVVROG PRUHYHQXHVDQGDPXFKKLJKHUSURĂ€OH for both the sport and the means of transport. So why is everybody so glum? British Cycling, the sport’s governing ERG\DQG7HDP6N\DUJXDEO\WKHZRUOG¡V EHVWURDGUDFLQJRXWĂ€WDUHFXUUHQWO\

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UK Sport has a queue of angry national governing bodies who do not get any funding because they are not nailed-on winners to deal with. more than bread and water. British Cycling has also been through two internal reviews in the last nine months, one related to alleged ÀQDQFLDOPLVFRQGXFWDQGWKHRWKHUWR GLVFULPLQDWRU\DQGVH[LVWEHKDYLRXUE\LWV former technical director. The latter of WKRVHPDQDJHGWKHQHDWWULFNRI XSVHWWLQJ both defendant and plaintiff: legal action remains a distinct possibility. 7KHDWWHPSWWRNHHSWKLQJVLQKRXVH at British Cycling’s Manchester base also failed, as UK Sport – the government agency that has been dishing out National Lottery lolly so successfully that Australia has given up pretending the Poms’ ZLQQLQJVWUHDNLVGRZQWRDWHPSRUDU\ loss of form and has copied the entire plan – decided the claims of bullying and bias were so bad they needed a more

independent inquiry. /LNHWKH8.$'LQYHVWLJDWLRQWKLV one has dragged on interminably and is almost guaranteed to disappoint everybody, from those who want British Cycling’s apparent obsession with medals to be disinfected by daylight, to those who want people to get a grip, ‘this is not IRUHYHU\ERG\LWLVQRWWKHWDNLQJSDUW WKDWFRXQWVLWLVWKHWDNLQJDSDUW¡HWFHWF The problem here, of course, is that both sides in the debate have their points but inquiries set up by the agency that has given British Cycling millions to win WKHPHGDOVWKDWKDYHNHSWWKHPLOOLRQV Ă RZLQJZKLOHSURYLGLQJWKHWHPSODWHIRU all the other sports we are suddenly good at now, are not the best forum for sorting out those points. To be fair, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the part of government that gives UK Sport the PRQH\LWSDVVHVRQWRWKHOLNHVRI %ULWLVK Cycling, realised this and set up another, really independent review into the ‘duty of care’ national governing bodies have towards their athletes. And yes, you guessed it, we are eagerly awaiting the publication of that worthy tome, too. In the meantime, UK Sport has a queue of angry national governing bodies who do not get any funding because they are not nailed-on winners to deal with, and the government is busy ripping up its grassroots sports plan of the last decade because glory in the PHQ¡VNHLULQFR[HGIRXUVDQGGUHVVDJH has not stopped the population from getting diabetic and obese. It has sometimes been suggested that the British are never happier than when they have something to moan about. But who could have guessed that winning, whether it be the only thing or just part of the thing, would be something we would get miserable about? 3UHVV$VVRFLDWLRQLVDQRIĂ€FLDOSportsPro media partner.


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Next time in

The federations edition

The Agenda

With sport’s leaders preparing to gather in Aarhus, Denmark for the 2017 SportAccord Convention, the next edition of SportsPro will focus on the priorities of federations and governing bodies in the year ahead. All will be addressing the familiar challenges of geographical expansion, good governance and commercial

enhancement, but will now be considering how to respond to rapidly changing dynamics in world politics and finance. As the world waits to hear whether LA, Paris or Budapest will host the 2024 Olympic Games, we will be putting together our annual destinations report, asking again how staging sport can

underpin local and regional strategies. Elsewhere in Issue 93, there will be a look behind the scenes at the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, the grand finale of the elite show jumping series, and the award-winning journalist and author Mihir Bose follows the P1 Powerboat series to his hometown of Mumbai.

Dates for your diary in the weeks ahead

4TH FEBRUARY TO 18TH MARCH Six Nations Championship UK, Ireland, France, Italy 26TH FEBRUARY Daytona 500 Daytona Beach, Florida, USA Nascar’s first season with new sponsor Monster Energy begins 3RD MARCH IFAB Annual General Meeting Wembley Stadium, London, UK Soccer’s rule-making body discusses changes to laws

3RD TO 5TH MARCH European Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade, Serbia 9TH TO 22ND MARCH World Baseball Classic Japan, Mexico, South Korea, USA 16TH TO 17TH MARCH IOC Executive Board meeting PyeongChang, South Korea Olympic leaders meet less than a year from the Winter Games Icons designed by Freepik

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ISSUE 92 By the numbers

What they’re saying this issue



“We don’t want things to be a surprise on day one. Anyone who’s worked in big productions for a long time knows the real challenge is being ready from the first minute of the first day.” Peter Hutton, Eurosport


“Before you’d have to say, ‘This is exclusive and it’s only for this TV channel.’ Now it has to be an exclusive on television, but you invite everybody else to join the conversation.” Henning Andersen, SAHR Concepts


“We are, of course, colloquially the national pastime, but MLB has since grown to not only be a major entertainment and media company, but also a technology company, even in some cases a sports diplomat.” Chris Park, Major League Baseball

From the SportsPro Podcast

“I think what we need to get to understand is the size of China. That middle class is pretty significant and they want something to spend their money on – and they can afford it.” Bloomberg’s Tariq Panja sums up the motivations behind the Chinese surge in investment in sport, entertainment and real estate. Find every SportsPro Podcast at or subscribe via iTunes

SportsPro Magazine | 15





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Zsolt Borkai, chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, wants a return to smaller Olympic cities






f your business is not a brand, it is a commodity.â€? So said Donald Trump, and if there was ever an example of delivering success by sticking to your brand values, it was The Donald’s surprising and meteoric rise to the White House. As the sponsorship landscape becomes ever more cluttered and the challenge to secure brand investment LQWHQVLĂ€HVPRUHLPSRUWDQFHWKDQHYHU is being attributed to a rights holder’s brand and values. It may not be wise to religiously follow the new president’s policies, but it stands to show that creating a brand and sticking ruthlessly to it can have a global impact. Tough Mudder is a prime example of a rights holder that has curated a strong brand which runs in parallel to its gruelling mass participation events to absorb their audience, or ‘Legionnaires’, into a way of life and mentality to be ‘free from everyday bullshit’. Sponsors are already capitalising on the brand strength and 2016 sponsor Bosch saw a compelling opportunity to showcase the shared values of teamwork and ‘delivering beyond expectation’ to promote its latest cordless drill. The creation of a community ensures year-round dialogue, delivering deeper engagement for sponsors and no more obviously demonstrated by the eight million people reached through a live stream of a 2016 Tough Mudder event and the recent production of a six-part television series. 10,000 Tough Mudder tattoos is a healthy indicator of the permanent and enduring commitment of its fans. 5HIHUHQFHVWR&URVVĂ€W¡VJOREDO expansion (13,000 gyms in over 120 countries) is now dated, but what is not is the creation of a brand which revolutionised ‘going to the gym’ for the Instagram generation. Four million people SDUWLFLSDWHLQDOLFHQVHGÂśER[¡Ă€WQHVV centre or download the ‘workout of the day’ (WOD) suggested exercise regime, and Reebok’s title sponsorship of the DQQXDO&URVVĂ€W*DPHVLVWHVWDPHQWWR

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the strength of an event which is purely a marketing platform rather than revenue generator. As new rights holders successfully build audiences and develop compelling brands, which become ever more attractive to sponsors, the traditional and established ULJKWVKROGHUVDUHĂ€JKWLQJWRNHHSXS The 2016/17 soccer season saw the implementation of new brand identities of both the Premier League and English Football League, driven by similar motivations to become more digitally and sponsorfriendly. For the Premier League this has been evidenced by the move from a title sponsor to four leading partners, with Cadburys recently completing the starting line-up. It was a bold move for the Premier League to drop any connection with soccer from its lion head graphic but the new logo can be used more succinctly beside sponsor logos and is a lot clearer on smaller, mobile screens.

In this digital age, rights holders need a strong brand which focuses more on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’. We have seen many of the rights holders with whom we work following the trend to modernise and become brand-focused and consumer-friendly, allowing for a more compelling value proposition and alignment with prospective sponsors therefore increasing the scope of comarketing and innovative activations. Aldi, a relatively new player in the UK VSRQVRUVKLSPDUNHWFUHDWHGWKHÂś*HW6HW to Eat Fresh’ campaign to support Team *%DW5LRDQGDVVRFLDWHJROGPHGDO winning performance with healthy and delicious meals. The Sports Consultancy is currently working with UK Athletics (UKA) to develop its commercial proposition in what

will be its most important year since 2012, as London hosts both the World Athletics and Para-Athletics Championships in the Olympic Park. Its brand development is a great example of a governing body which has differentiated the pride and passion associated with competition from the operations and governance of the sport. The badge design is more consumerfocused, attracting a new, wider audience which generates incremental value for the brand and subsequent sponsor revenue for the organisation. The results are already clear as demonstrated with its partnership with MĂźller for British Athletics and both world FKDPSLRQVKLSV0 OOHULGHQWLĂ€HGWKHFOHDU synergies of the passion and success of the team with its own six core values, including ‘the will to win’ and ‘striving to improve’, whilst building on their commitment to support British sports. It is not just the development of strong brands which is helping rights holders deliver the 4.5 per cent growth of sponsorship revenue forecasted by Forbes through to end of 2019. The concept of engaging fans year-round is now mainstream and the development of innovative digital platforms, which complement traditional broadcast deals and associate beyond the matchday experience, is becoming more commonplace. Rights holders are quickly latching on to the fact that to develop their business in this digital age they need a strong brand which focuses more on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’ and thus engaging a wider, more diverse audience to create increasing value and unique selling points to capture brand investment. Alex Crimmens is a Senior Consultant in Rights Marketing Consulting at The Sports Consultancy. The Sports Consultancy partners with rights holders, host cities, major events, venues and brands to deliver smart solutions to sport’s most complex commercial and legal challenges.

22-24 MARCH 2017 ESTORIL CONGRESS CENTRE Estoril · Portugal

Aleksander Čeferin

Alejandro Domínguez

Gianni Infantino

Victor Montagliani

President, UEFA

President, CONMEBOL

President, FIFA

President, CONCACAF









Managing Director, Sportradar AG

CEO and Co-Founder, Halo Neuroscience

President, Major League Soccer

President, Iceland FA





Exercise Physiology Professor, University of Copenhagen

Chairman, European Club Association (ECA)

Co-CEO, Delaware North Alternate Governor, Boston Bruins

Chief Marketing Officer, Portuguese FA





Head of The Story Lab for Iberia and SSA

Marketing Director, Heineken USA

Professional videogame player

Professor, Johannes Gutenberg University

Register at


Delicate timing Even allowing for its twin purchases of Premier League rights, perhaps the most telling acquisition made by UK pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport so far was its blanket buy of Uefa’s club competitions for UK£897 million back in 2013 – perceived at the time to have delivered all-new leverage to an insurgent player. Those rights are currently out for tender, and the picture is different. This is a trying period for the wider BT group, with an accounting

scandal related to its Italian business wiping big numbers off its share value. Meanwhile, returning Uefa sponsor Heineken has made public what many have been saying in private – that a market the size of the UK needs better free-to-air exposure for Europe’s biggest soccer competitions than is currently available. It could take some creative partnership-making for BT to hang on to a defining set of rights, and get back on the rise.

Concaf? World soccer could welcome a seventh confederation in the near future, with the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) exploring a breakaway from the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf ). Figures within the 31-member CFU believe their perceived marginalisation is

intended as a punishment for the transgressions of previous Concacaf presidents Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner, both of whom were heavily implicated in the Fifa corruption scandal of 2015, receiving lifetime bans. Concacaf’s subsequent lack of trust in the CFU has led to a disparity in funding allocations under new president Victor Montagliani (left).

Caring and sharing

Ten-year tenure

The amalgamation of sports properties and agencies in this age of mass acquisition carries much-discussed opportunities for synergy and cross-promotion. And, it seems, the potential of all that aggregated power is broader than anticipated. WME | IMG’s announcement in January that it was signing a partnership with global children’s charity UNICEF was testament to this, creating welcome opportunities to put properties and personalities from the agency giant’s network to the service of the greater good.

The confirmation of Liberty Media Group’s purchase of Formula One at the start of 2017 finally signalled the beginning of a new era for the sport, with the standing down of former chief executive Bernie Ecclestone the headlinestealing story. Also of significance was the emergence of plans to offer every constructor a direct financial stake in the sport – with the caveat that teams buying shares in the holding company would be required to retain them for at least a decade. This may ensure a level of financial stability but, given the fate of former constructor Manor, which collapsed in January after administrators failed to find a buyer, it remains to be seen how practicable the proposal will be. The team had spent just two seasons in the sport under the Manor guise.

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The Silva Bulls Energy drinks company-cum-global media conglomerate Red Bull has long been protective of its own brand when it comes to the sports teams it operates. In soccer, RB Leipzig, RB Salzburg and the New York Red Bulls all play their home ties in separate Red Bull Arenas, and all wear the logo of the company on their shirts. But the appointment of MP & Silva and Leverage Agency by the New York Red Bulls to help identify a new title sponsor for their Harrison, New Jersey stadium – which is owned by the Harrison County Improvement Authority – may signal the beginnings of a move away from that protectionist strategy and toward a more open approach. It may also be an indication of Red Bull’s confidence in running its businesses in their own right, rather than as marketing exercises.



LA’s sustainable, low-risk vision for the 2024 Olympic & Paralympic Games is Olympic Agenda 2020-ready, and clearly demonstrates that the Games can deliver tremendous benefits, not burdens, to Host Cities of the future. LA has invested $20 billion in sport and entertainment facilities over the last two decades. Our Games Concept features an unrivaled collection of existing world-class venues designed to showcase sport, and an astonishing Olympic Village on the campus of UCLA that offers an ideal setting for the world’s greatest athletes. LA 2024 has reimagined the Games experience by building its plan around four unique Sports Parks—each combining multiple sports venues, entertainment-driven Live Sites, and festive fan zones that LA24.ORG

place the Olympic celebration in LA’s diverse and beautiful neighborhoods. This will deliver a truly remarkable Games experience for the athletes, Olympic Family, visitors and the people of LA. LA 2024 will also foster a new, enduring connection to the world’s youth via the unique intersection of technology, entertainment, and new media creativity found only in LA and California. Against the backdrop of its stunning mountains and endless beaches, LA 2024 offers to take the Olympic Family across the threshold of transformation once again—into a New Games for a New Era. With everything in place, LA is ready to provide a new set of wings for the world’s greatest athletes—and a new set of wings for the Olympic Movement to soar into the future.


Movers and shakers December 2016 & January 2017 This is an edited selection of appointments made in the weeks before publication. For daily updates on the movers and shakers in the sports industry, visit Please email appointments to:

Emeric Deminière Emeric Deminière has been announced as the new deputy chief executive of Havas Sports & Entertainment, the sporting arm of Havas Media Group. He will report directly to company president Stéphane Guerry, who confirmed the internal promotion of Deminière.

Mark Lichtenhein

Bruce Li

The Ladies European Tour (LET) has appointed Mark Lichtenhein as its new chairman of the board of directors. Lichtenhein will assume the role with immediate effect and will be responsible for developing the tour and its international business activities. He has worked for the European Tour for 16 years, during which time he was pivotal in delivering the men’s series’ global television products, including the Ryder Cup, to all international markets.

Former professional tennis player and long-serving Nike executive Bruce Li has been name as head of WME | IMG China’s basketball division. Li has worked as marketing manager at Nike for the past 12 years, and will spearhead WME | IMG’s development of amateur and professional basketball in China, while also contributing to the continued growth of tennis, soccer and golf in the country.

John Tobias divisions.

Simon Trägner

Tim Stemp

Simon Trägner has been named as the managing director of Constantin Medien Group’s new consulting department. The unit will enable Constantin Medien to provide its partners and clients with specialist media consulting. Trägner leaves his position as managing director of German sponsorship agency Azkio to take up the role. He began work on 1st February.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has appointed experienced sports marketing professional Tim Stemp as its executive director, commercial. Englishman Stemp will join the global tennis governing body in early 2017 and will take control of its commercial department, which primarily handles its sponsorship and media rights portfolio. He will replace Andrew Walker, who has held the role since January 2015.

Tennis agent John Tobias has joined TLA Worldwide as a senior vice president, taking along with him several high-profile playing clients. He will be responsible for procuring and developing sales and marketing opportunities for TLA’s existing clients and properties, as well as representing several of his own long-time clients including doubles stars Mike and Bob Bryan, and the Americans Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and Sloane Stephens.

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Miguel Carballeda Miguel Carballeda has been reelected to the presidency of the Spanish Paralympic Committee (CPE) and will serve a fourth consecutive term. Carballeda announced that his primary goals for the next Paralympic cycle would include promoting parity between Paralympic and Olympic athletes, encouraging the inclusion of Paralympic athletes in sporting federations and increasing the coverage of Paralympic sport in the media.

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has appointed Johnny Grave as its new chief executive. Grave will start work with the WICB in February, and will be based in Antigua. In order to assume the role, he is set to leave England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), where he has been commercial director since 2007. The position has been vacant since Michael Muirhead stepped down in December 2016, having announced his resignation in October.

Adam Kelly

Gou Zhongwen The Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) has named politician Gou Zhongwen as its new president at a meeting in Beijing. Gou takes over from Liu Peng, who had served as the head of the COC since 2005 and has been named its as honorary chairman. Gou, who also became the director of the State General Administration of Sports in October 2016, reflected that China must take full advantage of the opportunities presented by hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Johnny Grave

Wu Swee Sin Global sports media agency MP & Silva has announced the appointment of Wu Swee Sin as its managing director in the Asia Pacific region, excluding China, Japan and Korea. Swee Sin assumed his new role on 1st February. He joins MP & Silva from Lagardère Sports Asia, where he held the joint roles of senior vice president of commercial soccer in Asia and country manager for Greater China.

Global sports agency IMG has announced the promotion of Adam Kelly to the position of senior vice president of worldwide sales. Kelly will head up the organisation’s global sales team. He assumes the role with immediate effect having most recently served as head of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and of business development worldwide. Kelly recently played a key role in the agency’s long-term joint venture with basketball’s Euroleague and will continue to be involved in the project.

Bernard Ross

Alex Kaplan

Discovery Communications has appointed Bernard Ross as chief operating officer and managing director for the Olympic Games at Eurosport. Ross will be based in Paris, reporting directly to Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton, and will lead on production and planning of the broadcaster’s coverage of the Olympic Games, which will begin with PyeongChang 2018. He joins from European soccer confederation Uefa, where his most recent responsibilities included delivering Uefa Euro 2016 as head of production.

Discovery Communications has brought in Alex Kaplan as the new executive vice president of commercial for Eurosport Digital. The American will be responsible for all customer acquisition and retention and will work in conjunction with Ralph Rivera, managing director of Eurosport Digital. The pair will report to Paul Guyardo, Discovery’s chief commercial officer.

Octavian Morariu Octavian Morariu has been re-elected as the president of European Rugby, the administrative body for rugby union in Europe. Morariu has held the role since 2013 and his re-appointment was confirmed following a vote by the representatives of the 47 member federations on 12th December. The Romanian enjoyed a successful club rugby career in France and he was the first representative from his country to play for the historic scratch side the Barbarians.

Jamie Davis USA Volleyball has named experienced sports media and marketing professional Jamie Davis as its new chief executive. The former Fanatics Inc, Versus and ESPN Star Sports executive becomes the national governing body’s seventh chief executive and replaces the long-serving Doug Beal, who retired at the end of 2016, with immediate effect.

Viatcheslav Ekimov Three-time former Olympic cycling gold medallist Viatcheslav Ekimov has been elected president of the Russian Cycling Federation (FBR). The 50-year-old, who was previously general manager of Russian UCI World Tour team Katusha-Alpecin, claimed victory after sole rival Alexander Vinokourov announced his withdrawal. Ekimov took gold at Seoul 1988, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, and also rode in the Tour de France for US Postal Service alongside the now disgraced Lance Armstrong.

Brence Culp Former Los Angeles County official Brence Culp has been announced as the executive director of sustainability and legacy for LA’s 2024 Olympic bid. Prior to her appointment, Culp played a major role in selecting the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as the proposed site of the Olympic and Paralympic village, a decision which LA officials claim will help reduce the risks and costs of hosting the Games. Culp also contributed to the review of LA 2024’s plans and budget. Her appointment builds upon the city’s intention of delivering a sustainable Games, which aligns with the reforms suggested by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Agenda 2020.

MOVER OF THE MONTH Adam Kelly, senior vice president, worldwide sales, IMG Media What is the biggest responsibility in your new role? The key focus is on the new global structure. IMG has the biggest global team of any of the agencies and as the market has become increasingly complex and interconnected, my real focus is to ensure that we maximise the returns through our network of executives and the global team in order to deliver the best possible results for our clients and our properties. What are the challenges facing you? It’s a case of the level of complexity. Our traditional structure has been one person per territory, dealing with broadcasters that operate in that one market. The biggest challenge now is that the boundaries have blurred in every aspect. Multi-territory broadcasters have increased pretty significantly over the past few years, whether that’s BeIN Sport, Eleven Sports Network, the significant growth and investment made by Discovery or Fox or Disney – there are new levels of complexity that haven’t really existed in this way before so the real challenge is to identify and understand the layers of potential, because for our clients and some of the properties that we deal with, it’s an increasingly difficult landscape to navigate through. There are only going to be more buyers of this nature. The next wave is the direct-to-consumer model and some of the huge companies that are looking at this space, whether its Amazon, the likes of Perform with their Dazn service, the layers and the levels of complexity are only going to increase, for sure. How do you see the landscape and your role developing over the next five years? The timescale is the most difficult thing to answer on that. I think the trends within the industry are ones of evolution. The question to be asked really is, will the players significantly change? I would doubt it. Will there be new buyers and new opportunities for rights holders? Almost certainly. The existing dominant players I would expect to evolve during that process. It’s pretty naïve to think that the likes of Disney, Fox, Discovery are not planning to evolve their business model. Everyone’s talking about OTT, everyone’s talking about direct-to-consumer, but I fully expect those players to be significantly involved in whatever way, shape or form the market demands. I also think it’s naïve to think there is going to be a hard cut-off point where behaviour suddenly changes and shifts towards a direct-to-consumer model; as we’ve seen, it’s harder than expected in the current climate. If you look at the history of IMG and my personal history in the company and our team, it has continued to evolve over the past 15 to 20 years and I think it’s a case in point that we have remained the dominant force throughout that period. The next five years will see continued evolution for us and hopefully some more personal evolution from myself.

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Conferences 1

Dana Point, USA

CAA and SportsBusiness Journal will team up once again in 2017 to present the 16th Annual World Congress of Sports. Taking place at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California on 19th and 20th April, the largest sports conference in North America takes a macro look at the challenges and opportunities facing the sports industry across the coming 12 months. 2

Miami, USA

Sportel America, the spring edition of the world sports content media convention, will take place at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami from 14th to 17th March. The event will bring together leading figures from the realms of sport and broadcasting at the industry’s leading marketplace for media rights.

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New York, USA

The TimesCenter in New York will play host to over 700 senior influencers from across the sport industry when Leaders’ Sport Business Summit is held there on 21st and 22nd March. Tod Leiweke, chief operating officer of the National Football League (NFL), and Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the National Hockey League (NHL), are among the headline speakers. 4

Melbourne, Australia

With big data increasingly becoming an integral part of the industry, the Sports Analytics Innovation Summit returns to the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground on 8th and 9th March, gathering experts and pioneers to offer their insights and opinions into best digital practice for sports teams, bodies and sponsors.


Sydney, Australia

The Business of Sport Summit will be held at the Swissotel in Sydney, Australia on 4th and 5th April. Speakers will include Fifa’s deputy director of women’s football Tatjana Haenni, Vinai Venkatesham, chief commercial officer at English soccer side Arsenal, and Victor Cui (below), chief executive of mixed martial arts promotion the ONE Championship.

Hosting A


North and Central American soccer confederation Concacaf has unveiled the 13 US cities set to host the 2017 Gold Cup. Those chosen for the group stage of the competition are Cleveland, Denver, the Texan city of Frisco, the New York Red Bulls’ home in Harrison, Houston, Nashville, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa. Among those, only Harrison, Frisco and Houston regularly host Major League Soccer (MLS) fixtures. B

London, UK

The UK’s capital city of London will hold four regular season National Football League (NFL) games in 2017, an increase from 2016’s three. Under the terms of an already negotiated deal, there will be at least two games staged at the home of English soccer, Wembley Stadium, until 2020, while the Rugby Football Union (RFU)owned Twickenham Stadium has a one match-ayear agreement with the NFL through 2018.


Paris, France

Disneyland Paris has been announced as the host of the 2018 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Men’s World Cup. The event is set to take place between 19th and 21st October, with matches held at the Disney Events Arena. The unusual choice will bring attention to table tennis’ second most prestigious competition, which ranks behind only the World Championships. D

Lyon, France

Stade de Lyon, the home ground of Ligue 1 soccer side Lyon, has been revealed as the host of the 2018 Europa League final, Uefa’s secondtier club soccer tournament. The match will be played on 16th May 2018. Six Euro 2016 matches were played at the 58,000-seater stadium, including the semi-final between Portugal and Wales. The ground is also due to stage the opening game and the final of the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup.



The German Football Association (DFB) has announced its intention to bid for the right to host the 2024 Uefa European Championship, the continent’s primary international soccer tournament. The competition would represent the first major men’s soccer event to be held in Germany since the 2006 Fifa World Cup. The DFB will present an application including ten nominated host venue stadiums to Uefa sometime before the April 2018 deadline. F

Königssee, Germany

The 2017 International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Championships has been awarded to Königssee. The German resort replaces 2014 Winter Olympics host Sochi. The Russian coastal resort was stripped of the event by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The 2017 IBSF World Championships runs from 13th to 26th February.

London will host a further National Football League game in 2017, taking its total to four, with at least two taking place at Wembley and one at Twickenham

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The ISC team enjoys a job well done

Stewart Mison, director of business development, Microsoft Sport

An ISA trophy

Alex Trickett, outgoing global chair of sport at Twitter

Benjamin Morel, senior vice president and managing director of the NBA for EMEA

Delegates networking

Tom Grace, head of UK sport for YouTube and Google

ISC moderator Kevin Roberts (right) presents a lifetime achievement award to Sir Craig Reedie

With 18 conferences in one venue, leading ďŹ gures from across the industry were present

The ISA awards lined up before the presentation

The Uefa Foundation’s exhibition stand

International Sports Convention 2016 The International Sports Convention (ISC) brought together 18 different sports conferences and one combined exhibition to one venue, the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland, on 7th and 8th December 2016. The ISC also hosted the International Sports Awards in the same venue.

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Members of the Fifa FifPro World XI accept their awards on stage

Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo on stage with hosts Marco Schreyl (left) and Eva Longoria

Fifa president Gianni Infantino

The Fifa Best trophy

Alejandro Dominguez, president of Conmebol, speaks to the press

Infantino hands the Best Men’s Player award to Cristano Ronaldo

Malaysia’s Mohd Faiz Subri won the Puskás Award for best goal

The icy conditions didn’t put off the crowds

American soccer star Carli Lloyd, winner of the Best Women’s Player award

The Best Fifa Football Awards 2016 Fifa, world soccer’s governing body, inaugurated its latest awards ceremony, the Best Fifa Football Awards, in Zurich on 9th January 2017. Among the winners were Cristiano Ronaldo, winner of the Best Men’s Player, Carli Lloyd, Best Women’s Player, and Claudio Ranieri, Best Men’s Coach.

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Former soccer player Thierry Henry talks with fashion designer Oswald Boeteng

NBA commissioner Adam Silver

Indiana Pacers’ CJ Miles (left) and Denver Nuggets’ Jameer Nelson in action

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone

Former Bayern Munich soccer star Michael Ballack with Arsenal player Per Mertesacker

Singer Ellie Goulding in the crowd

A sellout crowd of 20,000 watch the game

Arsenal forward Mesut Özil watches on

Özil’s teammate Alexis Sanchez, also in attendance

NBA Global Games London The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Global Games series returned to London’s O2 Arena for the fifth consecutive year on 12th January. The Denver Nuggets recorded a 140-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

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Carly Rae Jepsen performs

Metropolitan Division players are presented with a million-dollar cheque after winning the NHL All Star Game

Alex Ovechkin (left) of the Washington Capitals and Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets

A hockey fan holds Pacific Division scarves

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price offers a young fan a skating lesson

Singer Courtney Daniels and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly present Wayne Simmonds with the MVP trophy

Pacific Division forward Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames controls the puck

Former NHL star Wayne Gretzky and actor Cuba Gooding Jr

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby during the shootout

Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter greets Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler

Snoop Dogg entertains the crowd

NHL All-Star Game The 62nd National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star Game was held at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, home of the Los Angeles Kings, on 29th January. This was the third time Los Angeles had hosted the NHL All-Star Game, and the first time since 2002.

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Venus Williams joins her sister in the final

Gustavo Fernández was the men’s wheelchair champion

Roger Federer reacts to winning another Grand Slam, five years after his last title

Australian actor Eric Bana (centre)

David Warner (front) and Delta Goodrem (right)

Serena Williams poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup

Britain’s Johanna Konta gives a fan an autograph

Rod Laver and Chris Evert

The sun sets over Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena

Australian Open PAImages

The tennis season got into gear with another thrilling Australian Open from 9th to 18th January. The tournament saw Serena Williams claim her 23rd Open title, while Roger Federer won his 18th.

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THE SH T Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, is presented with a personalised jersey by the new Major League Baseball (MBL) World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs. Obama, a noted fan of the Cubs’ city rivals the White Sox, also received a lifetime pass to games at the Cubs’ Wrigley Field. The meeting took place at the White House days before Obama left office in January 2017.

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So much winning Donald Trump and the sports industry Perhaps no American president has taken oďŹƒce with as deep a history in sport as Donald Trump. Over more than three decades his misadventures in the industry encapsulated the myth and misanthropy of an American icon, part a pitiless quest for validation that would end, somehow, in the Oval OďŹƒce.

By Eoin Connolly

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old, chemical symbol Au, is among the least reactive of the elements. While not quite inert, it is highly resistant to oxidation and corrosion. Those properties, combined with its capacity to conduct electricity, have given rise to a range of modern industrial uses but historically, it was prized for different reasons. A rare metal that did not tarnish easily had obvious merit as a symbol of value, and just as important was its relationship ZLWKOLJKW*ROGVKLQHV,WUHĂ HFWVJORU\ ***** A little over three decades ago, long before settling on putting the public to his service, a wealthy young New York property scion named Donald Trump decided to bask in the ownership of a football team. The New Jersey Generals had gone 6-12 in the opening season of the United States Football League (USFL), a startup competition that took the pro game past the limits of the National Football League (NFL) and college seasons and on into the springtime. Despite that losing record, the Generals had the makings of a glamour team, not least with Heisman Trophy-winning running back Herschel Walker in their ranks. The University of Georgia underclassman had skipped senior year and the big league place that would follow, signing a contract worth an annual US$4.2 million.

The Generals’ majority owner was J Walter Duncan, an Oklahoman who had made his money in oil and gas. One season with the new team was time enough for the novelty to wear off, and he sold to Trump in time for 1984. According to reports, the fee was US$9 million. According to Trump, it was US$5 million. The USFL had been designed according to the Dixon Plan, a blueprint envisaged by league founder David Dixon. Patience was its underlying principle. The Dixon Plan called for big-market teams that would be attractive to broadcasters – ABC and ESPN bought the rights to the opening season for a combined US$13 million. But Dixon also expected owners to incur early losses and wanted DFRPPLWPHQWWRWKHSURMHFWWRĂ€VFDO responsibility, and to spring football. By the time Trump arrived on the scene, an informal salary cap had already been popped open – Herschel Walker’s contract alone was worth three times the initial agreed limit. As teams across the OHDJXHIRXQGLWGLIĂ€FXOWWRNHHSFRQWURO RI WKHLUĂ€QDQFHVVRPHRZQHUVEHFDPH more tempted by the prospect of going IURPWKHVORZEXLOGWRWKHTXLFNĂ€[² and the dynamic new force in their midst was keen to supply the latter. “If God had wanted football in the spring,â€? Trump said, “he wouldn’t have created baseball.â€? With an eye on a merger that might just make him an NFL owner before long, he pushed his peers towards accepting a switch to an autumn schedule. They duly did, with a majority agreeing to make 1985 the last spring season of the USFL. The move did not go well. Several teams chose to relocate rather than face competition in their respective cities. With a series of big markets moving out of the picture, the league’s TV deal was under threat. The 1986 season was suspended. There was one play left, an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL for restricting the trade of its upstart competitor. On 29th July 1986, a six-person jury found that the NFL was operating an unfair monopoly but saw cause to award only nominal damages, rather than the US$567 million sought. In 1990, long after it ceased operations, the USFL received a cheque for US$3.76 – a buck in compensation, tripled under antitrust laws, and adjusted for interest.

In 1987, Donald Trump released The Art of the Deal. A postscript: Trump would later participate in a documentary by director Mike Tollin, who had earlier run the USFL’s production company. On camera, Trump dismisses the league as a footnote in an illustrious career. He calls it “small SRWDWRHVÂľ²JLYLQJWKHĂ€OPLWVWLWOH Tollin’s thesis is clear enough: that however big or starchy it might have become, the USFL’s slim chances of survival ZHUHFXUWDLOHGE\7UXPS¡VLQĂ XHQFH6WLOO he was grateful for the property magnate’s involvement, and sent him a formal invitation to an early screening. The letter came back, signed by the hand that would one day approve executive orders, a message scrawled across it in marker pen. ‘MIKE. A THIRD RATE DOCUMENTARY – AND EXTREMELY DISHONEST (AS YOU KNOW) – BEST WISHES, DONALD TRUMP P.S. YOU ARE A LOSER’ ***** The USFL episode set a pattern that will be familiar to students of other Trump business ventures – the steaks, the vodka, the airline, the glossy magazine, the casinos, the ‘university’. Yet through the shortfalls and the debts and the bankruptcies of the 1980s and 1990s, one brand somehow stayed intact: Donald J Trump. A classic magic trick is comprised of three parts. First there is the pledge, where the performer shows an audience an ordinary person or object. Then comes the turn, where something unexpected happens. Finally, there is the prestige, where the object is restored but the secret is retained. Trump’s magic worked differently. He would enter a scene where his wealth and status were a source of some excitement. He would point to some property and say that this could be the biggest business in the world – bigger even – and that he would make it so. Then, as the extraordinary conspired not to happen, Trump himself would disappear. All was never quite as it seemed with Trump in the sports business. In the late 1980s, the now-shuttered Trump Plaza

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in the New Jersey gaming centre of Atlantic City was the venue for a series of prize Ă€JKWVLQDERRPWLPHIRUSURIHVVLRQDO boxing. Trump drew close to the major players of the age, Don King chief among them. Always one to take rules and regulations in the spirit in which he intended, Trump set himself up as the ‘host’ of these events. In Las Vegas, he would have required a licence as a live-site promoter. Among other things, the looser arrangement allowed Trump to make the most of an ‘advisory’ relationship with Mike Tyson – whom he would later support through a trial and conviction for rape – without disclosing its details. He may have EHHQFRQFHDOLQJDFRQĂ LFWRI LQWHUHVWRI DQ\ enticement to have the world heavyweight FKDPSLRQĂ€JKWDWKLVFDVLQRV+HPD\HYHQ have had a paucity of interest – in other words, there could have been no formal relationship. The upshot was the same, either way: Trump got ample airtime with another of the great media phenomena of the decade. $V7UXPS¡VSURĂ€OHURVHDQGKLV coffers quietly emptied, his approach was evolving. In 1987 he took a meeting with Mike Packer, a CBS basketball commentator and entrepreneur who had been encouraged by a colleague to launch a multi-stage cycling race. The Trump

36 |

Organisation became its title partner. 7KH7RXUGH7UXPSUDQIRUWKHĂ€UVW time in 1989 and promised a glitzy but still competitive pro cycling experience, and an event that could soon become a US counterpart to Europe’s grand tours. Greg /H0RQGWKHĂ€UVW$PHULFDQZLQQHURI  the Tour de France, raced in the ten-stage opening edition. But no man was more associated with it than its sponsor, whose waterfront casino was the climactic backdrop. At the time, Trump claimed an initial reluctance to attach his name to the race but said his “instinctâ€? had led him to relent. In May 1989, he told The New York Times: “I said, ‘I’ll take heat,’ but then I also said, ‘It’ll also make it successful.’ That is what is going to make this race successful. You can’t say much yet in the sense of being honoured, but I am honoured. Because the race, not even having been held, has already exceeded any expectations we’ve had. In revenues. In excitement.â€? According to that interview, Trump had committed to a US$750,000 guarantee that he now believed he would never have to pay, given the commercial interest that had followed his name to the race. But for all the media attention the tour had generated, it would only last two years in its original guise. Trump was going broke, his businesses underperforming and his credit drying up. He withdrew in 1990, though the race continued for a few more years under another name synonymous with big American business – DuPont.

7UXPSKDGDOZD\VEHHQDĂ€HQGIRU publicity and by now he had realised, by intent or dumb, blind luck, that he was his own most valuable asset. His track record outside of real estate suggests he had no business starting businesses. He lacked the judgement, the patience, the head for detail and the sense for nuance. But he had discovered the knack of projecting wealth, and of attaching himself to projects that could do that for him. As the comedian John Mulaney put it early in Trump’s primary run, “To me, Trump is not a rich man. Donald Trump is like what a hobo imagines a rich man to be.â€? 7UXPSZRXOGQRWEHWKHĂ€UVWRUWKHODVW man of means to realise that sport was an environment in which his fortune would garner headlines with lower scrutiny. He would one day be tenuously linked with bids for Scottish soccer club Rangers and Colombian soccer club AtlĂŠtico Nacional – once bankrolled to great success by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. In 2014 he publicly announced his interest in buying the Buffalo Bills – and the chance WRĂ€QDOO\EHFRPHDQ1)/RZQHU²DQG pledged to prevent a rumoured relocation. His reported US$1 billion bid fell well short but it meant people were talking about Trump, and his money. 7KDWFRQVWUXFW²WKHELJWKLQNLQJĂ€[HU and doer who millions of Americans might trust to lead them, whatever views he espoused – is one he then crystallised in entertainment, through a string of FDPHRVDVKLPVHOI LQĂ€OPDQGWHOHYLVLRQ and, of course, NBC’s The Apprentice. He also turned to sports entertainment, and the WWE.

Trump brought WrestleMania to Atlantic City twice, in 1988 and 1989, and returned to subsequent editions as a spectator. By 2007 he had woven himself into the series’ narrative, taking on WWE president Vince McMahon in a bizarre proxy match, a ‘Battle of the Billionaires’ – note, not ‘hundredmillionaires’ – that ended with Trump shaving McMahon’s head. Trump was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. The one time he was linked with a direct business interest– through a fake press release issued to promote a guest storyline in which he ‘bought out’ McMahon – the company’s stock dropped seven per cent. ***** Somewhere along the way, Trump found golf. ,QPDQ\UHVSHFWVLWLVDQDWXUDOĂ€W Throughout his business career he has only really had two dependable sources of income: property development and service fees, and licensing. An interest in golf courses, as Richard Gillis wrote last year in Golf International, was ‘a logical next step’ – not least for a man who took up the game in college as a means of smoothing business deals. There are now 18 courses in the Trump Golf portfolio, one that, he says, “somebodyâ€? has described as “the

greatest collection of golf courses, ever, in the history of golf â€?. Some of those who have played with him, like Alice Cooper and the former Sports Illustrated editor Mark Mulvoy, have their doubts about his registered three KDQGLFDSEXW7UXPSZLOOVWLOODEO\IXOĂ€O the most coveted networking session of them all – a round with the commander-inchief. For all that, it would not be unfair to suggest that his interests lay in what golf could do for him, not the other way round. Trump has spoken derisively of attempts to grow the game, saying it should remain “aspirationalâ€?. One of his biggest course projects, and certainly his most notorious, is the Trump International resort on the Balmedie estate near Aberdeen in Scotland. After purchasing the land in 2006, Trump secured the support of Scotland’s WKHQĂ€UVWPLQLVWHU$OH[6DOPRQGWR override natural protection laws and develop over a unique network of sand dunes. He had promised 6,000 jobs in return, but all but about 150 have never materialised. Instead, he became engaged in a running feud with Salmond and with residents about a string of broken promises, a series of attempts to revise his plans, with the latest rejected in December, and his objection to a nearby wind farm. He also

became the subject of another coruscating documentary – Anthony Baxter’s You’ve Been Trumped, which recorded his attempts to put the and squeeze on a durable local populace. For Trump, the jobs were probably never the point. Golf had given him access to a coveted elite, and the tacit approval that comes from being their host. He had also enjoyed a glimmer of the prestige the grand old game can bestow. Trump’s other Scottish course, Trump Turnberry, was once pencilled in to stage 7KH2SHQLQ&RQĂ€UPDWLRQZDV expected from the sport’s guardian, The Royal & Ancient, some time in 2015. Then came the relaunch of his political career. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,â€? he said, at a speech in New York in June 2015. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.â€? It was the start of a run for American RIĂ€FHVWHHSHGGHHSHULQRIIHQVLYHUKHWRULF than any in generations, and it would only get worse from there. Even for the JROI FRPPXQLW\²ULFKLQVRFLDODQGĂ€VFDO conservatives, boat-steadying defenders of the line between sport and politics – this was too much. The Open offer never came. This had been the chance not to preside over some lucrative, confected sideshow, but to hand the Claret Jug to the winner of one of sport’s oldest, most famous contests. For Trump, this was a crowning moment of recognition, snatched away. He may or may not think about it now.

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After the tumult of 2016, the patterns that will define the year ahead are emerging. SportsPro looks at ten people who will shape the sports industry in 2017, across politics, the media, and beyond.

Donald Trump

Fatma Samoura

President, USA

Secretary general, Fifa

For most of 2016 the prospect of a world shaped by Donald J Trump was inescapable. Now, there is no getting away from the reality. With his administration in its infancy, the 45th president of the United States of America has already begun to confirm some of the worst fears about his intentions and worldview. His country’s long-held place at the vanguard of freedom, democracy and rational progress is under threat. Leaving aside concerns about his morality and fitness to lead – which SportsPro shares – or his competence – of which there is much evidence, even within the confines of the sports industry, that he is lacking – the idea of Trump as president promises as much uncertainty within sport as it does everywhere else, even if the stakes are altogether lower. The Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympic Games had hoped to progress in relative serenity under the new chrysophile-inchief. But how will it recalibrate in the wake of the White House’s incoherent, inflammatory new immigration orders? How can a potential collaboration between the US and Mexico on a 2026 Fifa World Cup bid possibly function as a concrete wall rises between the two countries? What impact will Trump’s indulgence of Vladimir Putin have on attempts to temper Russia’s sporting influence at its most malignant, in areas from governance to anti-doping? Will a rift develop within American professional sport? The rise of Trump has elicited a divided response from individual athletes, coaches and officials in the US; his campaign was endorsed by the leaders of some organisations and abhorred by others. It is easy to imagine the more activist National Basketball Association (NBA), for example, taking a different route in the next few years than Nascar or the National Football League (NFL); it is harder to say how well any of their ambitions overseas will be served. Fundamentally, for an internationally minded industry like sport, there is the matter of the world’s leading economic and political power turning darkly inwards on itself. There is no precedent for this, and no playbook. EC

2017 was only a few days old when Fifa made the grandest possible statement about the general direction of travel of international soccer in the Gianni Infantino era. Whatever its impact on sporting quality and credibility, the decision to expand the World Cup to a colossal 48 teams will have thrilled those constituents to whom the Swiss owes his near year-old presidency: aspirant smaller national federations whose concerns about Eurocentricity have now been swept away and who can count on a greater degree of financial certainty, however cynically it has been guaranteed. But that is only one phase of the rebuilding project inherited from Sepp Blatter and company. Restoring trust in Fifa’s ability to administer faithfully, and not just lucratively, will be a longer process. It will largely be overseen and fronted by Fatma Samoura, the 55-year-old Senegalese former United Nations official brought in by Infantino as secretary general last May. Samoura was the first woman and the first non-European appointed to an executive position at Fifa and her appointment has been read as a case of soccer administration importing the kind of integrity, diversity and international relations nous it had failed to foster within. But her lack of sports industry experience will be held against her if she cannot deliver within the context of soccer’s uniquely configured politics. Challenges proliferate. As well as the need to show that a reformed Fifa can move past the widespread and heinous corruption of its recent past, there is the delicate matter of how to approach the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar, both of which many feel should never have been awarded the competition and which both present unique problems of their own. The former will host the Confederations Cup in 2017; the open sores of Putinism and state-sponsored doping will smart throughout, and that will be only a measure of the discomfort to come. It will take some skill to get the game through it intact. EC

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Picture by: Joe Giddens/PA Archive/PA Images

Chris Condon PGA TOUR

Xi Jinping

Jay Monahan

President, China

Commissioner, PGA Tour

Xi Jinping has made no secret of his passion for soccer. Whereas previously China has disregarded team sports in favour of individual pursuits, the country’s president is now keen to tap into the economic and political value of the world’s most popular game. The response of Chinese investors to Xi’s calls to transform China into a global soccer superpower was one of the industry’s most eye-catching stories in 2016, and already looks to have farreaching implications. Yet the trend of Chinese Super League (CSL) teams offering inflated wages to turn heads in more established competitions could now taper off after China’s Sports General Administration (SGA) chastised the country’s top clubs over their ‘irrational’ spending, and announced plans to regulate player earnings. The SGA also criticised excessive Chinese investment in European clubs. This may yet amount to tinkering around the edges but Xi’s longer-term priority is Chinese superiority, not imported prestige. Plans are afoot to build 70,000 pitches and 20,000 specialist soccer schools by 2020, and for China to develop its own world class players in pursuit of a Fifa World Cup win by 2050. Soccer is far from the only sport attracting major investment in China. In October 2016, Alisports pledged to spend US$100 million on developing rugby over the next decade. And with the Beijing Winter Olympics edging ever closer, the government has extensive plans to popularise winter sports. By 2022, it intends to foster an industry worth US$14 billion dollars in Hebei province alone. Alibaba’s nine-figure sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will tie China closer to the movement, not least with its e-commerce elements. As well as encouraging those increased levels of investment, Xi’s government is putting sport at the centre of a crackdown on alleged corruption. Deputy sports minister Xiao Tian was jailed for bribery in the final days of 2016, and it would be unsurprising if more high-profile convictions follow in 2017. NB

Jay Monahan has the fate and the fortunes of a sport at his fingertips. Having succeeded Tim Finchem, who served at the helm of the PGA Tour for 22 years, in January, the 46-year-old now occupies perhaps the most powerful office in golf. Described by Finchem as “absolutely the right guy” to replace him, Monahan is a golf man through and through: a veteran PGA Tour insider with the expertise and connections to ensure the sport’s leading tour retains that title for years to come. Yet, for the same reasons, he knows there is no shortage of trials awaiting him. Slow play, scheduling congestion, public image issues, a widening disconnect between the elite and grassroots games, even the impact of Donald Trump – Monahan must address each of those challenges, all whilst navigating golf’s frustratingly politicised landscape and ensuring the traditional media, sponsorship and licensing revenues continue to flow in to an organisation with assets in excess of US$2 billion. Having spearheaded the PGA Tour’s international expansion, Finchem left office advocating for the creation of a global, unified circuit, one that could govern the sport at the professional level and bring all stakeholders together for the greater good of the game. Bringing to fruition such a single-tour concept remains a complex task – just ask Finchem himself – but as the sport’s disparate tours realign, buddy up and jostle for position to protect and strengthen their respective interests, many will look to Monahan to lead by example. Will he pursue a mega-merger with his European counterparts? Can he foster closer ties with the women’s game? Not only does Monahan now oversee golf’s richest and most influential organisation, he also sits among the guardians of a sport that has struggled to modernise and adapt to a rapidly changing world. Its leading stakeholders know that it must widen its appeal, especially among crucial audiences such as millennials, women and ethnic minorities. It is now down to Monahan to ensure golf remains relevant in the increasingly cluttered and competitive digital age, and this is the year in which he must hit the ground the running. ML

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Chase Carey

Kasper Rorsted

Chief executive and executive chairman, Formula One

Chief executive, Adidas

After 30 years of the same leadership Formula One has finally felt the winds of change. With Liberty Media formally completing its US$8 billion takeover in January, Chase Carey will now lead the task of rejuvenating a sport that has drawn in on itself and fallen short of its true potential. A highly renowned operator who made his reputation in the sports broadcasting industry at 21st Century Fox, negotiating a ground-breaking US$1.6 billion deal for NFL rights in 1993 before helping to drive the inception of Fox Sports in 1994, Carey has been the exquisitely moustachioed face of the Liberty takeover since it was announced in September. It is only in the new year, however, that the extent of his influence became apparent. The American was initially installed as Formula One’s chairman, with Bernie Ecclestone’s intimate knowledge of the paddock – and the thicket of deals he had personally seeded – expected to make the Englishman indispensible to the new owners for a couple of years at least. Instead, the 86-year-old has been moved to a chairman emeritus role that gets him out of the way of the business of modernising the series he did so much to build. As chief executive, 62-year-old Carey will be flanked in his task by managing director of commercial operations Shawn Bratches and managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn. The new set-up promises a more collegiate approach to solving some of Formula One’s more intractable problems – from invigorating its anaemic centralised marketing to instilling some coherent rule-making and competitiveness on the track. Yet it will still be Carey to whom eyes are turned. While he has insisted he will dredge the oceans of experience at Ecclestone’s disposal, he has also called time on an era of decision-making that fell “somewhere between ineffective and dysfunctional”. A more digitally minded championship is proposed, but also one which respects its historic hosts and whose in-city experience amounts to “21 Super Bowls”. It is an ambitious vision. GD

When Adidas announced the pending appointment of Kasper Rorsted as its chief executive in January 2016, replacing the outgoing Herbert Hainer, its market value rose by close to €1 billion. The valuation of Henkel, the German chemical and consumer goods group the Dane was heading up at the time, dropped by a greater amount. Rorsted, 53, was feted for reviving Henkel’s fortunes in his eight-year stint, where he made a big push into the North American market, overhauling some of the company’s biggest competitors in the consumer goods space. It is hoped he can perform a similar trick at Adidas now he is in place. Last October it reclaimed its spot as the number two sportswear brand in the US, overtaking Under Armour after three years in third. With revenues slowing globally, however, it will be the need to gain ground on Nike that still exercises minds in Herzogenrauch. Adidas has set its sights on becoming the leading sports brand in the world’s biggest country, with a new ‘One in a Billion’ marketing campaign launched at the start of 2017 to signal a drive for primacy in China by 2020. The push into new markets will be one part of the strategy; the other will be to draw upon Adidas’ heritage as an innovator. Whichever of the apparel giants is best able to grasp the possibilities of wearables and smart materials will have a good chance of dictating not just the future of the sector but of whole chunks of sports and leisure culture. To have a chance of doing so, Rorsted and Adidas have more prosaic concerns to address. Chief among those is the future of fitness brand Reebok, that 90s powerhouse for which Adidas has struggled to find a purpose since a 2005 takeover. Adidas announced plans to divest its interests in its golf businesses last year but the early indications are that for Reebok the preference is for renewal, rather than resale. EC

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Gold Partners



Olivier Niggli

Lee Hee-beom

Director general, World Anti-Doping Agency

President, PyeongChang 2018

A lawyer by profession, Olivier Niggli replaced New Zealander David Howman as the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) director general last July, having previously served as the body’s chief operating officer and general counsel. Though not as quoteworthy as his straight-talking Kiwi predecessor, the Swiss now finds himself in the public spotlight as a central protagonist in the unceasing and increasingly politicised battle against doping in sport. There is no denying 2016 was a challenging year for Wada, the independent body founded in 1999 and co-funded by sports bodies and national governments. Hacked by the cyber espionage group Fancy Bears, thrust into wider public discourse following a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) scandal and its own damning McLaren Report into Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme – never before had the agency been the subject of such scrutiny. Indeed, towards the end of last year fears mounted for the very future of Wada after the IOC refused to heed its call for a blanket ban on Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics. That disagreement opened up a worrying rift at the highest levels of sport, with senior IOC officials criticising Wada’s deficient protocols and apparent impotence to effectively tackle doping issues, and led to calls for a replacement ‘integrity unit’ and an overhaul of the global antidoping system. This year, Wada must respond. In October an Olympic Summit recommended greater authority and regulatory powers for the body, affirming its role at the forefront of the fight for clean sport. Now, empowered by renewed support, strengthened investigative capabilities, the prospect of greater funding and a more confidential whistleblower programme, the onus is on Niggli and Wada president Sir Craig Reedie to define how best to approach that fight. But it will not be a straightforward task. With the credibility and integrity of sport under threat from a plethora of malignant forces, bringing increasingly sophisticated doping cheats to justice has never been tougher. All that makes Niggli’s job all the more crucial. ML

An Olympic Games looming, allegations of corruption flying, a political scene in turmoil and a president facing impeachment: didn’t we do this one already? 12 months remain until PyeongChang, South Korea welcomes the world for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and the sense of déjà vu is undeniable. Just as the build-up to Rio was marked by the trial of Brazil’s then president Dilma Rousseff, so PyeongChang has found political scandal providing an unwanted backdrop to its preparations. Not only is South Korean president Park Geun-hye implicated, but also senior figures within the electronics conglomerate Samsung, a major backer and sponsor of the Games. The man charged with holding all this together is PyeongChang 2018 president Lee Hee-beom who, less than a year into the job after replacing Cho Yang-ho in May 2016, is finding the going tougher than he may have anticipated. Lee’s biggest challenge will simply be in ensuring that the Games themselves remain above the fray. Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the political controversy for her involvement with Park, has also been accused of holding undue influence over the tender process for the Olympic venues and, perhaps more damagingly for Lee, over the process by which he was installed as Cho’s replacement last year. A saving grace for Lee is that PyeongChang is much farther along with its physical preparations than Rio was when the crisis hit its nadir, and that South Korea is much better prepared to absorb the shockwaves of the turmoil than Brazil ever was. Lee has conceded that raising interest in the Games within South Korea has been “difficult” thanks to the political climate and, having missed the sponsorship target for 2017, is aware that his international push cannot afford to fail. How he steers the ship from here will have profound implications on the success or otherwise of the 2018 Winter Olympics. AN

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Picture by: Nick Ansell/PA Archive/PA Images

Bob Iger

Tracey Crouch

Chairman and chief executive, The Walt Disney Company

Minister for sport, tourism and heritage, UK

Bob Iger oversees the world’s largest media conglomerate, The Walt Disney Company, a globally renowned behemoth that controls assets exceeding US$92 billion. But if that were the only reason he makes this list, the 65-year-old American would have been in it years ago. Much was made last year of ESPN’s worrying subscriber losses but Disney remains bullish about the future of its iconic sports network. Under Iger, who has run Disney since 2005, the pay-TV pioneer remains intent on retaining its self-proclaimed title of ‘The Worldwide Leader in Sports’, and America’s most-watched cable network will pump more than US$7 billion into premium sports rights this year alone. Having bet big on live streaming when it launched WatchESPN in 2010, Iger’s Disney splashed US$1 billion on a 33 per cent stake in BAMTech – the live streaming specialist spun off from Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) – last August in a bid to accelerate the development of a new over-the-top (OTT) sports offering. With the broadcast landscape changing, the direction in which Iger takes Disney next could have major implications for the sports industry as a whole, not least for the leagues and properties that rely on the skyhigh fees ESPN continues to shell out for their rights. As it stands, Iger has no plans to extend his tenure in Disney’s top seat when his current contract expires in June 2018. But he could well be looking to make one last big splash before moving on. He is said to be on the lookout for a major digital acquisition to bolster Disney’s portfolio and drive the company’s growth in years to come – could a potentially game-changing takeover of Netflix be more than just a rumour? In any case, Iger remains one of the most respected businessmen in the US. In July he became vice chair of the board of directors for the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. And he has an admirer in Donald Trump, too, the new president having selected him to sit among a host of prominent business leaders on his strategic and policy forum. ML

Tracey Crouch became sports minister midway through a golden decade for British sport, both on the field and as a host of major events. It is easy to forget how recently, and how heavily, the UK once leaned on its sporting heritage at the expense of forward planning. Now the country’s sports industry is internationally respected for its professionalism, with a generation of executives and administrators emerging with reputations enhanced from a string of global setpieces, not least the ultimate stress-test of London 2012. In some respects, 2017 promises more of the same. London will host the year’s biggest sporting occasion – the World Athletics Championships – while two International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments will grace England in the summer, with the Champions Trophy and Women’s Cricket World Cup whetting the appetite for the sport’s blue-riband event in 2019. Yet even with all that to come, and with Team GB basking in the glow of an improbable second-place finish in the Rio 2016 Olympic medal table, an introspective mood has been brewing. The UK Sport-led, National Lottery-backed elite funding model has delivered unprecedented success in some disciplines, but the list of governing bodies no longer happy that it meets their needs has grown longer. An ongoing investigation into the anti-doping policy at the stillrampant British Cycling has done little to assuage the fears of those who argue that victory has been pursued at too high a cost. Recreational cycling is another success story but with grassroots participation in a number of other sports either foundering or falling short of expectations, calls for an updated strategy will not go away. Then, of course, there is Brexit. The UK’s looming departure from the European Union was sealed by a slender majority, but is being pursued with gusto by Crouch’s colleagues in government. The sports minister, like many of her peers, will be pressed to offer reassurances about her sector. Concerns that British sporting and cultural influence could be a casualty of any ungainly crash from the single market are inevitable. EC

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Founded in 2011 by Chatri Sityodtong and Victor Cui, Asia’s ONE Championship has grown in just over five years to achieve a billion-dollar valuation. SportsPro went behind the scenes at the mixed martial arts promotion’s final event of 2016 in Manila to find out how this startup became a leading player in the fight game. By Michael Long



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Chatri Sityodtong, founder and chairman of the ONE Championship, Asiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest mixed martial arts promotion

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Victor Cui, chief executive of the ONE Championship and its cofounder alongside Sityodtong



ONE Championship has helped to bring MMA into the mainstream in Asia, commanding huge audiences across each of its 16 events in 2016



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Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera successfully defended his ONE Heavyweight Championship at Age of Domination




Sidyodtong is hoping to more than double the current number of events annually, with plans to eventually host 52 a year



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EPEE DOHA 9-11.12.16 BUDAPEST 24 -26.3.17 BOGOTA 26 -28.5.17




SABRE CANCUN 16 -18.12.16 SEOUL 31.3.17 - 1.4.17 MOSCOW 2.6.17 - 4.6.17



SNOW TIME With one year to go until PyeongChang’s Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games get underway, the preparations in South Korea are entering their final stretch. Despite a difficult political environment and the initial reticence of commercial partners to get involved, the feeling within the local organising committee is optimistic and expectations are high that they can deliver not only a worthy event, but a lasting legacy for the region. By Adam Nelson

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he South Korean county of PyeongChang has a marketing slogan: ‘Happy700 PyeongChang’. The phrase refers to the region’s elevation above sea level, at 700 metres, which, according to the local tourist board at least, produces the optimal conditions for human living. In February 2018, PyeongChang will host the Winter Olympic Games and that theory will be well and truly put to the test. The total population of the county is around 45,000; the PyeongChang

Olympic Stadium, with a capacity of 50,000, could seat all of them with room to spare. By the time the opening ceremony rolls around on 9th February next year that 45,000 will be more than trebled by the congregation of athletes, their supporting teams, travelling supporters and the world’s media. Already a popular winter sports resort, PyeongChang has much of the necessary infrastructure in place though, clearly, an Olympic Games is a challenge beyond anything the region has experienced before. For

An aerial view of the skiing and snowboarding venues under preparation for next year’s Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea

now, however, it is not concerns about the infrastructural demands that are occupying the minds of the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee (Pocog). PyeongChang 2018 marks the ÀUVWRI WKUHHFRQVHFXWLYH2O\PSLF Games set to take place in this corner of east Asia – with Toyko gearing up for 2020 and Beijing UHDG\LQJWREHFRPHWKHÀUVWFLW\ to have hosted both summer and winter editions when it welcomes the latter in 2022 – presenting

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a unique opportunity for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a territory where it has of late focused much of its energy. Already in 2017 a huge deal has been struck with Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, which joins The Olympic Partner (TOP) programme for the duration of the movementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Asian residency. Pocog itself, too, has largely PDQDJHGWRRYHUFRPHDGLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOW start, which saw the IOC intervene in 2015 and advise that the committee needed to do more to attract sponsors. Since then, a litany RI RIĂ&#x20AC;FLDOVSRQVRUVDQGSDUWQHUV have been added and, despite marginally missing the sponsorship target for 2016, the IOC is now FRQĂ&#x20AC;GHQWWKDW3\HRQJ&KDQJZLOO reach its overall goal by the time the Games roll around. Lee Hee-beom is the current president of Pocog, but he was only appointed to this role in May 2016 after the surprise resignation of his predecessor, Cho Yang-ho. Lee pins some of the responsibility on an initial lack of urgency. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The current economic situation is challenging both globally and locally, but the Olympic and Paralympic Games are international sporting events, which attract international attention,â&#x20AC;? he tells SportsPro. The slowness with which PyeongChang DFWHGLVQRWDUHĂ HFWLRQRQ the status of the Games, he says, but could be indicative of an environment in which companies DUHKHVLWDQWDERXWWKHEHQHĂ&#x20AC;WVRI  EHFRPLQJDQRIĂ&#x20AC;FLDOVSRQVRU â&#x20AC;&#x153;Previous Gamesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; local sponsors have been the leading companies of the hosting nation, and this is also true for PyeongChang 2018,â&#x20AC;? he says, with the likes of global electronics giants Samsung and LG both signed up as partners. â&#x20AC;&#x153;To attract companies to join the league, the organising FRPPLWWHHKDVWROD\RXWWKHEHQHĂ&#x20AC;W for being a sponsor to the companies, and protect sponsorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rights by monitoring any non-sponsorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s violating sponsorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rights. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Also, I would advise future organising committees to set a goal after thorough reviews, and

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draft a plan to reach the goal. The communication with companies should start as early as possible, and the organising committee needs to continue the dialogue with patience.â&#x20AC;? Having signed up seven topWLHURIĂ&#x20AC;FLDOSDUWQHUVDQGĂ&#x20AC;YH VHFRQGWLHURIĂ&#x20AC;FLDOVSRQVRUVIURP KLJKSURĂ&#x20AC;OH6RXWK.RUHDQDQG international companies for the Games, Lee is now focused on Ă&#x20AC;OOLQJRXWWKHUHPDLQLQJVSDFHV with smaller local bodies. ´:HDUHĂ&#x20AC;OOLQJWKHJDSVE\ extending our efforts to medium DQGVPDOOVL]HGĂ&#x20AC;UPVLQWKH necessary industry categories, and we are lowering the bar to attract them as PyeongChang 2018

Peter Hutton, chief executive of Eurosport, speaking at SportsPro Live 2016

supporters and suppliers,â&#x20AC;? he says, noting that Pocog has now achieved ŕľ&#x160;841 billion (US$729 million), or 89 per cent, of its ŕľ&#x160;940 billion (US$823 billion) target. Both the IOC and the local organisers, however, could do without the headaches currently being encountered in South Korea. The organisers for Rio 2016 just about managed to steer those Games through Brazilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s choppy political waters and ultimately present a relatively unscathed spectacle to the world; PyeongChang was supposed to be plainer sailing. Instead, it has so far staged a demonstration of Karl Marxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dictum about history repeating itself, except in this case there is only farce,

RQO\WKHVHOILQĂ LFWHGZRXQGVRI  self-interested politicians. Once more, an Olympic host nation has a president facing impeachment over corruption charges; once more, the local organising committee is battling political turmoil and engaging in a PR struggle simply to convince the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residents that the Olympic Games are worth hosting at all in such tumultuous times. The scandal centres on the DSSDUHQWÂśXQGXHLQĂ XHQFH¡RI  one Choi Soon-si, a close aide of president Park Geun-hye who holds QRRIĂ&#x20AC;FLDORIĂ&#x20AC;FHEXWKDVUHSRUWHGO\ shaped several government policies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; including, most damagingly for PyeongChang, the selection process for Olympic venues. In January 2017, the drama claimed its most KLJKSURĂ&#x20AC;OHYLFWLPWRGDWHZLWK the resignation of Cho Yoon-sun, the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s culture, sports and tourism minister. Cho was jumping before she was pushed, having been arrested on charges of abuse of authority. The fall-out could have VLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWLPSOLFDWLRQVIRUWKH Winter Olympic Games. Furthermore, Samsung â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not MXVWDQRIĂ&#x20AC;FLDOSDUWQHURI WKH PyeongChang Games but an IOC TOP sponsor â&#x20AC;&#x201C; has itself become embroiled in the turmoil. Its Seoul headquarters were raided in November 2016 amid accusations it had sent ŕľ&#x160;3.5 billion (US$3 million) to a company owned by Choi. This was not the environment Lee had anticipated when he was appointed as president of Pocog, after the hasty resignation of his predecessor. That move has also come under the microscope, with allegations DULVLQJWKDW&KRLLQĂ XHQFHGWKH appointment. For Lee, who has during his nine months in charge fought tooth and nail to keep the Games away from the scandal, those accusations have proved an unwelcome distraction. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Olympic and Paralympic Games are events that transcend national or political issues,â&#x20AC;? says Lee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our team for PyeongChang 2018 remain focused on Games

Lee Hee-beom, the president of the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee

preparation, building the facilities to a standard the athletes will welcome, organising a series of test events that will help us Ă&#x20AC;QHWXQHRXUSUHSDUDWLRQVDQG activating promotional activities as we meet the various milestones leading up to the Games. â&#x20AC;&#x153;All these efforts continue as normal. We hope that everyone who watches or attends the test events and the Games will see that Pocog is able to rise above any GLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOWVLWXDWLRQVDQGGHOLYHUWKH best Olympic Winter Games.â&#x20AC;? There are positives for PyeongChang, certainly when compared with where Rio was one year out from its own Olympic Games. Brazilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s political instability came off the back of a catastrophic economic collapse and amid a huge construction push to complete many of the venues and new infrastructure being put into place. South Koreaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy is much more robust and, more pertinently for Lee, much of the FRQVWUXFWLRQLVDOUHDG\Ă&#x20AC;QLVKHG RUHQWHULQJLWVĂ&#x20AC;QDOVWDJHV Competition venues, he says, have an average completion rate of 96.3 per cent, with many gearing up to host test events over March and April, something Lee says will be of paramount importance to the Ă&#x20AC;QDOHYHQWWRWLQNHUZLWKZKDWKH

describes as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;softwareâ&#x20AC;? of the organising committee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hosting a successful Games is always a big challenge,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And there are two main aspects to this. One is hardware, meaning venues and infrastructure. The other is software, meaning operational know-how and experience. Our hardware is mostly on track. For software, the Pocog team is using every test event as an opportunity to acquire the required operational experience. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The test events will help the Pocog team to familiarise themselves with the venues, operational excellence and conditions of the Games. We want our staff across all functional areas to deliver the best Olympic Winter Games. We will know our test events have been successful when we see that the participating athletes are able to perform at their best during competition and everyone, including WKHSXEOLFDQGRIĂ&#x20AC;FLDOVKDYHJRRG things to say about PyeongChang and their experience at the event. After all, it is their positive feedback that will help enhance public interest in the Games.â&#x20AC;? Public interest in the Games is, at this point, arguably Leeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest challenge. Ticket sales launch on 9th February 2017 and, though he insists that excitement for the event is â&#x20AC;&#x153;buildingâ&#x20AC;?, it is certainly true that the political atmosphere in South Korea at the present moment is not entirely conducive to the Olympic spirit. Pocog is currently engaged in a huge PR push, utilising both RQOLQHDQGRIĂ LQHFRPPXQLFDWLRQ methods to generate momentum. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The education team is travelling all over South Korea to educate Olympic and Paralympic values, promote the ideas of the Olympic Truce movement, and invite students to the PyeongChang 2018 Games,â&#x20AC;? says Lee. The education team has met with over 400,000 students, he adds, making 69 school visits and promoting the Games at 24 events. Pocog is also engaging with followers across social media, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Weibo

SportsPro Magazine | 55


and Instagram. It is not just within South Korea that the appetite for the Olympics seems to have been diminished. Beijing was awarding the hosting rights for the 2022 Winter Olympics after a low-key two-horse race with Almaty, Kazakhstan and, while the pressure may not necessarily be on the organising committee in PyeongChang, there is a sense that the Olympic movement as a whole needs the 2018 Games to be a success â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as much in the aftermath as in the two weeks of competition. /HHLVFRQĂ&#x20AC;GHQWWKDWFDQ offer a lasting legacy not just to PyeongChang but to the whole of South Korea. The intention of turning PyeongChang and the wider Gangwon Province into a winter sports hub for the region was a major part of the initial bid. The infrastructural renovations for the Olympics include an all-new high-speed train line to the region, capable of cutting the travel time from Seoul to PyeongChang from three and a half hours to just 100 minutes. These kinds of topdown initiatives are part of the long-term legacy of the Winter Olympics but, as Lee points out, the real challenge is in ensuring that the facilities created for the Games continue to be used, with the Olympics providing a platform for engaging young Koreans in winter sports. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With our â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;New Horizonsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; vision, Pocog aims to develop winter sports and relevant industries in Asia, and leave a lasting legacy in the host region by transforming PyeongChang and Gangwon Province into an Asian winter sports hub and year-round tourist destination,â&#x20AC;? says Lee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;PyeongChang 2018 will be only the third Winter Olympic Games to be held in region, and Korea will only be the second Asian country to ever host the Olympic Winter Games after Nagano, Japan, 20 years ago. As a part of our effort to introduce winter sports to young people who do not have the opportunity to experience

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winter weather and winter sports, PyeongChang has hosted â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Dream Programmeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; every year since 2004. To date, over 1,500 young people have participated in the programme, including future Paralympians.â&#x20AC;? For Discovery-owned EURDGFDVWHU(XURVSRUWDVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQW amount is riding on these Games, too. PyeongChang 2018 will be the Ă&#x20AC;UVWDLUHGE\WKHFRPSDQ\VLQFH the massive â&#x201A;Ź1.3 billion (US$1.45 billion) media rights deal Discovery signed with the IOC in 2015 to take the Olympic rights across Europe and, as Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton points out, WKHFRPSDQ\´Ă&#x20AC;QDOO\JRWWRSXW the Olympic rings on our channelâ&#x20AC;? from the start of 2017. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That was a real big step in terms of showing both externally to viewers and even to our own staff and productions teams, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Look, the journey has really started now,â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? says Hutton. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a big switch for us in that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve said to everybody what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to do, and now we need to start delivering. In particular, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a lot of people working on research and development and on new technologies and looking at how we can tell stories in different ways. The sort of work theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re coming up with now is really interesting. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all designed to be ready in a yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time, but the work really starts now.â&#x20AC;? As much as preparing for an Olympics has been a steep learning curve for Lee and his team, Hutton also admits that PyeongChang UHSUHVHQWVDVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWFKDOOHQJH for Eurosport, with the Winter Olympic Games being on another scale entirely from the broadcasterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s traditional work, where â&#x20AC;&#x153;weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d take the world feeds in from events and put them back out again with different commentary on themâ&#x20AC;?. Now, he says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the idea is that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re creating something thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relevant in each market, we have far more local presentation, we have far more adaptation of the story to make it relevant to the audienceâ&#x20AC;?.

The PyeongChang 2018 education team has met with over

400,000 students and made

69 school visits

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a big production challenge,â&#x20AC;? he continues, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and one where weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to accelerate that process towards the Olympics.â&#x20AC;? To return to Leeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s earlier analogy, Eurosport demonstrably already has the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;hardwareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in place, but the remaining 12 months before the Games will be used for developing its â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;softwareâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, with a series of KLJKSURĂ&#x20AC;OHHYHQWVDFURVV representing a chance to practise Olympic broadcasting before its big debut in South Korea. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The other part is looking at those events that clearly lead up to Korea for us in terms of scale, in terms of our vision, and make sure that we do a good job around those but that we use them as part of our warm-up,â&#x20AC;? says Hutton. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That can be things like the world championships of the winter sports or even things like the IAAF World Athletics Championships and the Fina World Championships that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re covering on our channel this summer. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all part of a process for us, which is a process towards PyeongChang. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re testing things, whether it is VR tests or new technology tests in terms of timing; we want to make sure that by the time we hit the Olympics that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re completely ready. We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want things to be a surprise on day one. Anyone whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worked in big productions for a long time knows the real challenge LVEHLQJUHDG\IURPWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWPLQXWH RI WKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWGD\:H¡YHJRWD\HDU and a bit to try and make sure that things are seamless when they go on air, and that our teams realise the new levels of quality expected from them.â&#x20AC;? PyeongChang also represents DĂ&#x20AC;UVW*DPHVVLQFHWKHODXQFK of the Olympic Channel, which Ă&#x20AC;QDOO\GHEXWHGDIWHUPRQWKVRI  speculation, in the aftermath of the Olympics in Rio. Operated jointly as an over-the-top (OTT) service between Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and the IOC, the channel shares in Eurosportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aim, Hutton says, of â&#x20AC;&#x153;making the Olympics a yearround, relevant brand and taking it

to a younger audienceâ&#x20AC;?. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our position is obviously around major events, and they have a very democratic ambition in terms of taking a lot of Olympic sports that search for exposure to a wider audience,â&#x20AC;? KHDGGV´6R,GRQ¡WVHHDFRQĂ LFW between those two things. +RSHIXOO\ZHFDQĂ&#x20AC;QGZD\VWR work together to cross-promote each other because I think if they work, then we work.â&#x20AC;? The Winter Games is particularly well-suited to the Olympic Channelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s modus operandi, which relies heavily on viewers tuning in for short spells of time and sharing clips across social media. The landscape of Gangwon, combined in particular with the more spectacular sports on the Winter Olympic programme â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such as the ski jump and the luge â&#x20AC;&#x201C; should produce some captivating imagery and unique stories. Eurosport is hoping to lead the way in producing that imagery and telling those stories, Hutton explains, and is currently engaged in a lengthy research and development phase looking into various emerging

PyeongChangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Olympic Stadium during construction in 2016

technologies which will help in that endeavour. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re never sure exactly whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to work and whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not going to work,â&#x20AC;? says Hutton. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In general terms, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working with OBS to Ă&#x20AC;QGRXWH[DFWO\ZKDW¡VSRVVLEOH Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking into wearable technology, both in terms of timing and the other content you can take from that technology â&#x20AC;&#x201C; things like heart rates or glucose levels, or so many different things that you can monitor on an athlete.â&#x20AC;? To many, it is still incredible that this kind of data can be collected at all so quickly and accurately, but its usefulness to a broadcaster is minimal if it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be translated into a meaningful narrative; as Hutton says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one thing to be able to get that volume of information; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s another to then use it editorially to tell stories with it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Over the next year or so youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll certainly see us taking trials with wearable technology and saying, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;How can we use that data to tell relevant stories?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pretend to have all the answers because this is developing on a day-to-day basis but you know that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s got great

potential to make the sports more relevant and to tell stories where commentators are not guessing about what an athlete is feeling but know what theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing.â&#x20AC;? The IOC, Hutton says, is â&#x20AC;&#x153;really excitedâ&#x20AC;? by some of the ideas it has seen from Eurosport so far, as are the PyeongChang organisers. While the IOC has made no particular editorial demands of the broadcaster, both organisations are aware that the stakes are higher than usual in PyeongChang. For Eurosport, it represents a major opportunity to demonstrate its new role as â&#x20AC;&#x153;the custodian of the ringsâ&#x20AC;?, as Hutton puts it, and to justify the money spent. )RUWKH,2&PHDQZKLOHWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW of three east Asian Games will be expected to reignite wider interest, from fans and potential host cities alike, in the Winter Olympics. Both the IOC and Pocog will be hoping over the next 12 months that their oft-repeated refrain that the Olympics transcends national politics holds true, and that the turmoil infringes no further on the preparation for the Games. It could yet be a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Happy700 PyeongChangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; indeed.

SportsPro Magazine | 57



58 |

The Winter X Games will host its second Norwegian edition in 2017, after celebrating two decades in the US last year. With a captive young audience and any amount of social media-friendly content, its organisers believe the event can lead the way in a new digital-first world. By Adam Nelson


he sun glares low over the icy Norwegian sky. In the foreground, zooming into shot down the big air slope, is Japanese snowboarder Yuki Kadono. Once airborne, he twists and turns, seeming to defy gravity, landing a perfect backside triple cork 1620. Kadono is on his way to gold at the 2016 Winter X Games in Oslo but, more than that, he is on his way to social media notoriety. Among winter and extreme sports enthusiasts, the video of his winning jump is shared, and shared, and shared. The Winter X Games celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, having kicked off in Big Bear Lake, California two years after its summer counterpart. Though in some ways it still bears the hallmarks of its 1990s roots – the name itself with its ‘Generation X’ connotations, the games redolent with the Bart Simpson image of edgy latemillennium cool – the Winter X Games is in many ways only now truly coming into its own, in the age of Twitter and Instagram, GoPro and virtual reality. While the X Games in both its summer and winter formats has been a success on its own terms – no unsuccessful sporting event could run for over two decades – it has arguably struggled to achieve true crossover success, remaining the preserve of its dedicated core fanbase. In recent years, the advent of social media and of ubiquitous cameras has helped to bring a whole new audience to an event whose prize asset is its outstanding visuals. The X Games has always been, to some extent, a media SURGXFWÀUVWDQGIRUHPRVW,WV US-based editions are controlled

and operated by American sports broadcasting giant ESPN in a rare foray into running, as well as covering, sports events. And as Tim Reed, senior director of X Games content strategy at ESPN, points out, “action sports in general are historically based on visual arts, whether that’s photography or video, that’s always been the basis for the sport”. Last year’s inaugural showcase LQ1RUZD\ZDVWKHÀUVWHDVWRI  the Atlantic since 2013, when the Alpine resort of Tignes, France KRVWHGWKHÀQDORI IRXUFRQVHFXWLYH Winter X Games Europe events. Run by ESPN in conjunction with the country’s largest commercial broadcaster TV 2 and local events organiser SAHR Concepts, the X Games Norway 2016 relaunched the series in Europe in style, constructing the big air jump in downtown Oslo, taking over the city centre for the weekend. The 2017 edition, taking place from 8th to 11th March in the ski resort of Hafjell, represents a move back towards the Winter X Games’ traditional roots – the US edition has been held in the winter sports haven of Aspen, Colorado since 2002 – but should offer an event no less spectacular than its urban predecessor. “It’s tough to call right now what the major differences are going to be,” says Reed. “Obviously, being in the city centre, you’ve got a bigger population to work with, but we’re excited to see the crowds that are going to come out this year and we’d hope people are checking in with more awareness of the event and more awareness for what we’re doing in general, that will drive engagement for all the things that we’re doing.”

SportsPro Magazine | 59


One of the immediate and expected consequences of the move away from that is that the audience capacity will be reduced – 15,000 paying spectators are expected over the weekend, contrasted with the 35,000 who attended in Oslo – but the organisers do not believe the drop in ticket sales will negatively impact the event. Hafjell has a winter sports pedigree of its own – it held the slalom and giant slalom alpine skiing events when nearby Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Olympic Games and the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics – and there is an ever-receptive audience for action events in a country like Norway. “Last year’s games were a great success, it was really beyond our expectations,” says Henning Andersen, chief executive of SAHR Concepts. “Obviously in Norway there is a lot of interest in action sports; not just interest but participation as well. We asked in surveys before the event how many people actually went skiing or snowboarding on a regular basis and it was, like, 20 per cent of the population. So there was a huge welcoming for it, there has been a lot of snowboarding events in Norway but not an action sports event on that level so I think it was highly anticipated, and we have already had equal anticipation for Hafjell. “It’s a couple of hours’ drive from Oslo, so it will be a different event; it’s a bit more complicated because you have to go by train and stay overnight, it’s more of an effort than just buying a ticket and jumping on the bus. We were more limited in terms of our course in Oslo because you have to build everything, but here you have the advantages of the natural environment which is fantastic; it’s going to be a great arena. Also, there are more participation opportunities for people coming who want to snowboard or ski.” The big air jump in the centre of Oslo had a number of ticketed seats, but Andersen estimates that

60 |

over 6,000 people crowded into the city’s University Botanical Garden to get a view of the action. Aside from this audience being keen winter and action sports fans, he says, a crucial element is that they are young, digital natives, who are sharing images, videos and other content IURPWKHHYHQW²ZKLFKEHQHÀWV both the X Games organisers and, as importantly, the sponsors. “We have actually quadrupled our sponsors despite the lower ticket sales,” he explains. “And that’s because the event last year was such a success, not only in terms of spectators but televisionwise and digitally. We reached 500 million people who actively logged in and interacted with the X Games Norway content.” Andersen describes the previous process of measuring the success of an event by its TV ratings as “the old world”, claiming that it is increasingly losing relevance for the X Games brand and its audience. New methods, which take into account the “sum of everything that is exposed and engaged with”, including in-venue, on TV broadcasts and across digital and social media, offer a much more salient set of measurements. 7KHEHQHÀWRI WKHHYHQW·V rights holder also being the host broadcaster – and ESPN, as Reed points out, airs the X Games Norway in “over 190 countries, giving almost half a billion people

Norway will host its second Winter X Games in 2017

globally access” through its own channels and broadcast partners – is that it can share as much or as little as it likes of the content digitally, without running into any licensing restrictions. Part of the X Games’ social strategy has been, in Andersen’s words “to invite the fans and the athletes and the media and the partners into the conversation, so they’re all taking part in creating that user-generated content”. “We have to be much more open, we have to let people use our content in a much freer way,” he says. “The athletes who came to X Games Norway last year had 31 million followers between them across social media. That’s DQHQRUPRXVÀJXUHLWULYDOVZKDW the Olympics has. If you’re telling people, ‘No, you can’t use this, you can’t use that,’ you’re deliberately limiting the audience who will see your content and therefore limiting the exposure for yourself and for your content.” Andersen points to the likes of American skateboarder Nyjah Huston and Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris as popular athletes competing at the X Games who “have huge apparatus around them, their sponsors and partners who are really getting advanced and really involved” in the production of content, something other rights holders – he names no names – may have attempted to shut down, but which ESPN and TV 2 are

more than happy to allow. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Red Bull Media House, for instance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; how clever they have become in creating high-quality content, using GoPros and such things, and they have a much bigger distribution than even most TV networks in the world,â&#x20AC;? he adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the new way for us to work. Before youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d have to say, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;This is exclusive and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only for this TV channel.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Now it has to be an exclusive on television, but you invite everybody else to join the conversation.â&#x20AC;? The question, he says, then becomes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;How do you document and measure that and expand your income through that open-source strategy?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x153;And I think we have succeeded with doing that,â&#x20AC;? he concludes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We can see it in the pricing of the Norwegian sponsorships, that they are not only paying to reach the TV viewers but the friends of the friends who attend the event. As long as we can document it and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hooked into the hashtag and our own handles, we can leverage that. Even if maybe 80 per cent of the investment of sponsors is in television because it has to have this infrastructure, the 20 per cent

The X Games has a partnership with action camera manufacturer GoPro, which helps capture the spectacular and highly shareable imagery

that you invest in social media is what is creating the hype. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sure that in the years to come that we will go to more like a 50/50 investment split, or maybe we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even separate them.â&#x20AC;? Andersen stresses the continued importance of delivering â&#x20AC;&#x153;a world class TV productionâ&#x20AC;? noting that it is the eventâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s roots and remains â&#x20AC;&#x153;the main, iconic product that everyone refers toâ&#x20AC;?. Though FRPELQHGYLHZLQJĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVIRUWKH Summer and Winter X Games in the US in 2016 continued their downward trend from a peak of 17 million in 2014, they remained at a healthy 14 million, and the TV product will continue to drive the digital side. The X Games itself has recently struck a deal of its own with GoPro, something Reed says they are still working out how exactly to integrate into the broadcast product, but which will certainly enhance the immersion levels and lead to new kinds of imagery that can be shared, â&#x20AC;&#x153;being able to follow athletes off jumpsâ&#x20AC;?. ´7KHĂ&#x20AC;UVWSHUVRQSHUVSHFWLYHVÂľ he says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;are awesome.â&#x20AC;? Those cameras debuted at the X Games Aspen in January, just

over a month before the Norway edition takes place, and Andersen confesses that SAHR continues â&#x20AC;&#x153;to learn a lotâ&#x20AC;? from its more established American counterpart. 5HHGLVFRQĂ&#x20AC;GHQWKRZHYHUWKDW the presence of the Aspen event will provide a boost to Hafjellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visibility, with the relationship being PXWXDOO\EHQHĂ&#x20AC;FLDO â&#x20AC;&#x153;As part of our Aspen broadcast and coverage, of course the fact that Norway is happening will come up, so thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a natural connection between the two that helps give some continuity,â&#x20AC;? says 5HHG´$QGWKHQLWNLQGDĂ LSVDW Norway, where thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be a lot of looking back to Aspen and UHĂ HFWLQJRQDWKOHWHSHUIRUPDQFHÂľ With the Olympics in 3\HRQJ&KDQJORRPLQJ²WKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW Winter Games to come at the peak of Instagram-mania â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that visibility and continuity for winter and action sports is only going to increase. And, as the inclusion of skateboarding on the Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020 has shown, the extreme sports audience is one the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is intent on capturing. A greater mainstream presence for the X Games may be on the horizon.

SportsPro Magazine | 61



Live sport has arrived on social media, with an increasing number of top events joining user-generated content on the major platforms. For rights holders – and traditional broadcasters – the new format is giving rise to new ways of telling stories and interacting with fans. By Eoin Connolly


ince social networks became social media – forums for sharing news and content rather than directories for connecting with friends – there have been questions about when they might begin to compete in the broadcast space. Those questions have only grown louder since the biggest among them began developing outlets for real-time video.

62 |

Twitter bought Periscope shortly before its 2015 launch, and has now integrated live video directly into its main site. Facebook Live became available to companies in 2015 and in April of last year, it was opened up to all-comers. Sport has followed. Twitter has picked up live simulcast streaming rights to selected games in the National Football League (NFL),

and the likes of PGA Tour golf and Australian Open tennis. Facebook Live has become the home of events looking to grow their audience in markets where they lack a mainstream TV deal, from Spanish women’s soccer to Caribbean Premier League cricket to Formula E. With near-live digital video clips already common, full live streaming is only a step behind.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one single thing; I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re actually seeing a combination of many things coming out,â&#x20AC;? suggests Richard Collins, the chief executive of Tellyo, a real-time editing, sharing and content management system for the social media market. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re seeing an audience saying, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hey, live is really interesting.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re seeing a technology enablement that makes it far more simple and far more cost-effective to actually do this. I mean, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no longer the case that if you want to be live streaming youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at the bleeding edge of technology. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s maybe not mainstream, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s getting there.â&#x20AC;? Live video streaming has been a reality online for close to a decade, and elite sport has been a part of it for much of that time. Cricketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Indian Premier League (IPL) agreed a two-year deal to stream its games live on YouTube all the way back in January 2010, with coverage then carried in every country other than the US. But there are key technical differences between that exercise and the current vogue for live social video. Practical advances, certainly, are one factor. Improved download

speeds in several markets have not only allowed more users to stream video but also to do so without compromising on quality. For Carlo De Marchis, chief product DQGPDUNHWLQJRIĂ&#x20AC;FHUDWEURDGFDVW and digital media solutions specialist Deltatre, the gap between traditional TV sources and digital streaming has been bridged entirely on some platforms. The challenge, he says, comes from building technical solutions that can provide â&#x20AC;&#x153;a strong beyond-TV opportunityâ&#x20AC;?. Another factor is that, where the IPLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s YouTube partnership was an exercise in mimicking the linear broadcast model, rights holders that make their coverage available on social networks have a better FKDQFHRI Ă&#x20AC;QGLQJDQHZDXGLHQFH Digital services have a different marketing infrastructure from TV channels, and a platform on the scale of YouTube does not direct its audience to a single viewing in the manner of a linear broadcaster. Tellingly, when BT Sport partnered with YouTube for its UK free-to-air simulcast of last seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Uefa Champions League Ă&#x20AC;QDOLWVFRYHUDJHZDVSURPRWHG through a campaign across

The proliferation of live social media platforms meant it was only a matter of time before sport migrated there

Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. In the event, BT was also able to PHDVXUHYLHZLQJĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVDQGWLPHV on YouTube, and direct marketing around its subscription packages, using cookie data. Seven years on from the debut of YouTube T20 there is also a better understanding of the strengths and potential of social platforms, and rights holders and brands can be better informed of what will and will not work. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Traditional broadcast usually IRFXVHVRQOLYHDFWLRQRQWKHĂ&#x20AC;HOG of play with digital content used for alternate camera angle footage, highlights, and expert commentary,â&#x20AC;? says Igor Ellis, chief executive of digital content delivery consultant Omnigon. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As such, digital content has not had the same fan engagement as traditional broadcast has. However, with evolving technologies like 360 video and virtual reality, we see digital playing a key role in engaging fans. These new video formats can offer a truly immersive experience that comes close to in-venue content consumption.â&#x20AC;? While the most newsworthy aspect of the move to live on social media has been the conventional

SportsPro Magazine | 63


broadcast of events like NFLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Thursday Night Football, the choices open to content owners are much wider. Flexibility and accessibility are baked into platforms that, after all, are built to house user-generated content. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You need to have a clear endgame of what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to achieve,â&#x20AC;? says Collins, â&#x20AC;&#x153;because thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a number of different technology platforms out there that can enable you to share either a live VWUHDPIURPDVSHFLĂ&#x20AC;FHYHQWRUZLOO enable you to clip and share â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in real or near-real time â&#x20AC;&#x201C; extracts from a broadcasterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stream. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a question of what you want to do. Are you trying to generate a different audience? Are you trying to grow awareness or are you just trying to reutilise this content into a new platform, or transfer audience from social through to linear? What is it you want to do? Have a clear view, and then seek out the best technology partner and try the platforms out.â&#x20AC;? Rights holders at different levels have different priorities. Those at the very top end may be in an experimental phase, feeling out its potential before entertaining the option of deeper partnerships with

64 |

social platforms â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not least as they H[SORUHZKDWĂ H[LELOLW\WREXLOGLQWR future TV rights deals. For those further down the scale, sharing live streams with fans through social media could well be the best way to reach them, particularly with supporting content. Rights holders can also have different needs in terms of how much live video content they use. A major soccer team, for example, can Ă&#x20AC;QGWKDWZKLOHIDQVKDYHDQDSSHWLWH to watch full games involving the Ă&#x20AC;UVWWHDPJRDOFOLSVDQGDOHUWVZLOO better serve youth and reserve sides. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re also seeing people using social live streams as a teaser, through to either on-demand, pay-TV and, in some cases, linear,â&#x20AC;? Collins notes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be a single one size Ă&#x20AC;WVDOOLUUHVSHFWLYHRI ZKDWWLHURI  sport youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in.â&#x20AC;? Collins stresses the importance of creating video editing tools that, while powerful, are intuitive and straightforward to use. He believes that to properly harness the potential of social video it needs to be put in the hands of people who know how to convey the â&#x20AC;&#x153;passionâ&#x20AC;? that live sport can generate. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I mean, this is something that

Twitter aired ten NFL Thursday Night Football games this season

has to engage in a few seconds,â&#x20AC;? he adds, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and sport encapsulates passion, tribalism, that thing you feel on the inside when your team is winning.â&#x20AC;? The effectiveness of Tellyo and similar platforms is dependent on being able â&#x20AC;&#x153;to democratise the technologyâ&#x20AC;?. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In this technological era, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more important that they understand engagement on a social platform and understand storytelling then it is that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a great video editor,â&#x20AC;? Collins says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s let the computers do the heavy lifting on the video, and letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s let human ingenuity and storytelling create great, engaging content.â&#x20AC;? Tellyo was in its â&#x20AC;&#x153;dark betaâ&#x20AC;? SKDVHRI WHVWLQJ´IRUWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWQLQH months of 2016â&#x20AC;?, a period in which the company was able to get SHUWLQHQWIHHGEDFNIURPĂ&#x20AC;YHRI  LWVPRVWVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWFOLHQWV´$QG we learned so much in those nine months that we actually rewrote our entire platform twice,â&#x20AC;? Collins reveals. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And, for us, that was where we decided that single-clip wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enough; that montages, highlights, news reel creation in great-quality adaptive bitrate was essential.â&#x20AC;?

A Home Field Advantage While Away Right here, right now. The Middle East, particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council or â&#x20AC;&#x153;GCCâ&#x20AC;? countries, now sustains a considerable sports market, hosting an increasing array of internationally renowned sports and entertainment events. One of the reasons for the rapid rise in GCC destinations as hosts for major sporting events is a combination of governmental support and a demonstrated willingness to get the key mix of hard and soft infrastructure elements right. Success breeds success and when it comes to hosting sports events this means both sustainability in terms of annual events FRQWLQXLQJDQGGLYHUVLÂżFDWLRQ in respect of additional events looking to establish themselves on the calendar. Suppliers, sponsors, event support contractors, etc. Quite apart from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and Dubai Expo in 2020, the increase in foreign companies doing business in the region, as well as the number of teams and athletes training or competing here, continues to grow. From venue construction to events management and hospitality, the array of suppliers servicing the sports sector is continuing to mature. In short, as a professional sports or events organisation, you are likely either here already or you should be thinking about how you can best gain a foothold in the region.

Helping you do what you do best. Most companies with a proven track record in the competitive sports sector are adept at leveraging the commercial advantages and minimising the liabilities of their core business. Whether that business is manufacturing specialised sports equipment, providing support services or aligning a brand with a product, an event or a lifestyle, both the value and the duration of such deals can EHVLJQLÂżFDQW)RUWKLVUHDVRQ sourcing appropriate advice is key to properly structuring relationships and adapting practices to succeed in the Middle East. Optimising your existing strengths within an evolving legal and regulatory environment to set appropriate governance and compliance strategies without introducing undue risk requires appropriate consideration of local laws and regulations. Identifying and understanding relevant laws and regulations, then determining appropriate commercial strategies can help you avoid issues that could impede maximising returns on investment or even compromise ongoing operations and attract civil or criminal liability. From advertising restrictions to corporate liability, part of the dynamic development of the region means navigating legal and governmental initiatives that range from promoting incentives for growth to mandating caution in respect of implementing compliance practices.

2QHVL]HGRHVQRWÂżWDOO Law and practice applicable to any given line of commercial activity may differ from region to region; and, in the Middle East, from country to country. These differences in laws, administrative procedures and their enforcement PHFKDQLVPVVKRXOGEHĂ&#x20AC;DJJHG and addressed prior to rolling out regional activities to ensure business can proceed as planned and on schedule. Helping you put your best foot forward. Al Tamimi & Company is one RIWKHSUHPLHUODZÂżUPVLQWKH Middle East and the largest law ÂżUPLQWKHUHJLRQZLWKSUHVHQFH in all of the six GCC countries. Established in 1989, we have 56 partners, staff of over 670, DQGRIÂżFHVLQQLQHFRXQWULHV throughout the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Egypt. We specialise in advising major international corporations and ÂżQDQFLDOLQVWLWXWLRQV0LGGOH (DVWEDQNVDQGÂżQDQFLDO institutions, government organisations, businesses and families in their global operations and investments. We have particular expertise in sports law & event management, arbitration & ADR, banking & ÂżQDQFHGLVSXWHUHVROXWLRQ  litigation, IP & data security, shipping & aviation, project & LQIUDVWUXFWXUHÂżQDQFHUHDOHVWDWH & construction, corporate & commercial, technology, media & telecommunications, insurance and private client business.

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To that end, Tellyo has not only made it possible for users to create edited highlights from a single stream, but has also worked up a new feature that makes it possible for users to access the platforms controlling raw broadcast feeds. “That’s a bit of a gamechanger,” Collins says, “because suddenly the social media editor has access to content that was previously the domain of the OB truck – you know, 24 cameras on a single game – and can choose angles. In some respects, it takes storytelling – and we come back to this phrase time and time and time again – because just having a million different pieces of content doesn’t help you create a great, engaging clip.” Getting the attention of fans, ultimately, is at the core of what rights holders are trying to achieve. The value of social video is on the rise. According to ‘Putting a Price On Social Video’, a report by Burst Insights, short video clips posted on social media by Premier League clubs last season generated an estimated UK£88m in brand value exposure for their kit suppliers. Of the best-performing videos across all platforms, 29 per cent were short match clips – more than any other format outside of live streaming. 7KHUHDUHEHQHÀWVWREXLOGLQJ an audience on a social platform that go beyond what is possible

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in linear broadcasts. In late 2016, social video specialist Grabyo ran a test on a Manchester United soccer game to gauge interaction and reaction. First it measured social media activity and found, unsurprisingly, that it spiked around goals and major incidents. When it ran those reactions through a language analysis tool, it found that it was possible to discern differences in the reaction based not only on the volume of output but the nature of it. Theoretically, it could be possible to use such data to better inform – or even automate – the process of editing footage for highlights. On live entertainment shows, meanwhile, there is the opportunity to measure how different segments are performing. That can aid creative choices, and it can give brands an insight into how best to align themselves with social programming. “Social media offers a glimpse into fan behaviour that can be measured,” says Ellis. “For example, we’ve seen views per share ratio decrease over 40 per cent in last 12 months, meaning more people are sharing videos that they’re viewing via social channels. This is a very telling metric since the same views per share ratios have not shifted dramatically outside social media channels. Brands looking to raise

Social video involving teams like Manchester United and Liverpool is driving ever more value for brands

awareness can take advantage of this fact and utilise social media video viewing as a meaningful channel to increase brand awareness and reach.” Ellis sees this as fundamental to what will drive rights holders to social platforms in the months ahead. “Being able to measure engagement and capturing data points that drive business goals from social media channels will be key to major brand adoption of social video publishing,” he says. “We see data as one of the key focus areas for all our clients, especially data capture when it comes to fan engagement via social networks.” De Marchis concurs. “The great advantage I see in live social video is the participation aspect, which enables more depth of measurement as it can also provide qualitative beyond quantitative,” he says. For Collins, it is a matter of when, rather than whether rights holders will engage. “I think everybody will adopt whatever platforms provide them the greatest and the most valuable audience,” he adds. Asked how the sector he expects the sector will develop, Collins suggests that there will be “different answers depending on what sport you’re in and where you are”. “Some of the really big brands are actually beginning to really investigate,” he says. “There’s a major club in Spain which is putting together an innovation centre and looking at how media will evolve over a number of years, so they’re starting to really experiment and trying to work out where they can go themselves. But what we’re also seeing is some major movers in the likes of eSports who are digital natives – this is where they started – and their appetite for digital and social, and all things accessible to a global audience, is driving at an incredible rate of knots. So technologically, I think we’re in a really great position.”

DATA ON THE RADAR Live video is one element that has heightened engagement opportunities for sports organisations on social media, but it is only part of the picture. Live data, which is growing ever richer and more open to interpretation, is also driving interaction and sharing. Sportradar, an integrity specialist which has made its name as a betting and anticorruption monitor, has diversified in the last 18 months to offer a broader range of data distribution services. It has made a breakthrough in the US, where it has now signed stats distribution partnerships with the likes of the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL) and, most recently, the National Basketball Association (NBA). According to chief commercial officer Steve Byrd, North America was a natural place to start. “Traditionally the US leagues have had data distribution partners, for a much longer time than in soccer and other federations,” he says. “The US is a very statistics-driven culture; so is the way that we follow sport and with fantasy sports being such a big thing here for such a long time.” The technical challenge of collating and disseminating large quantities of ingame data in real time is one Sportradar has prepared for through its previous activities, with Byrd crediting “the core competency” the company has developed in “the servicing of all the bookmakers and the fraud detection system” as being particularly attractive to its new partners. “The way that the operation works,” Byrd explains, “is that we receive the data feeds from the leagues and then we put that into a consistent API [application programming interface] format so that our clients know that whether they are getting NHL, NBA, NFL, college football, college basketball, golf, international soccer, that there is going to be a consistent data scheme in their ability to process that is much enhanced by our ability to deliver that in a consistent format. “The key to the whole process is speed. And it is certainly obvious for the online bookmaking industry where the in-play gaming is so critical but it is the same for fantasy games, where they are showing real time scoring to all the mobile clients that we serve where people need that

Sportradar signed a data distribution partnership with the National Basketball Association last year

information as fast as it happens because otherwise they are behind their friends; they are behind what is happening on TV.” Byrd adds that the creation of the API early on is the pivotal part of the process, supporting all of the processing work that follows. The move to watching and following sport live on social platforms, he says, has “greatly” affected the delivery of statistics. “For instance,” he notes, “when you post on Facebook that you are watching Chelsea versus Liverpool – or are at the match – and you post the score, I will then be seeing a live score of that game on my feed. That is all coming from Sportradar. That’s the power in social. “In that sense it is not necessarily about delivering the data to someone who is looking for it. We have tons of clients like Bleacher Report and The Score where people are coming to seek out that information but with social media we are adding to what is being shared about the events, which people are doing more and more but we are now adding that context. It is all integrated now. We are now building the digitalisation, widgets, or mobile cards of the content to be shareable, to be snackable. To fit into that form factor that people want to consume data, that they are getting most of their information from what they see on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.”

Byrd anticipates the next developments in the distribution of live data to be in the type of information made available by rights holders. Player tracking is already “in the early innings” but new data sets like impact measurement and, in particular, biometric data could give fans an entirely different picture. “Again, the technology helps in creating new content that allows a further understanding of the game,” Byrd adds. “Fan engagement is our primary interest but certainly the leagues are using it for tactical and coaching information.” Sportradar has “covered something like 400,000 live events” but it still has plans to expand its activities. Its next move is into the growing eSports market, where it has become the official betting data and media partner of the Electronic Sports League (ESL). “The APIs are consistent for a media company to consider,” Byrd says. “Whether it is on CounterStrike or League of Legends, we have all of those APIs. We are delivering those to companies now, who are frankly just starting to figure out how to display it and how fans want to consume that information. I think that is going to be critical for a broader interest in eSports, for people who aren’t intimate in playing the games themselves to be able to understand how people are winning and what makes you a good eSports player or team. We are very excited about that.”

SportsPro Magazine | 67



As social and digital platforms make further strides towards becoming live broadcast players, SportsPro looks at where the sectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest hitters stand and where they plan to go. By George Dudley


hen Twitter paid US$10 million to the National Football League (NFL) to live stream ten Thursday Night Football games it put to rest a long-mooted rumour that the social media platform was moving into live sports broadcasting. The ground-breaking deal has perhaps shifted the goalposts of how live sport will be consumed from here on in. Though Twitter is ostensibly the pioneer of the movement, it is clear that the other giants of Silicon Valley are keen to join the feast. And, with the cost of pay-TV packages proving too much for more and more consumers, viewers are beginning to seek their content elsewhere. The NFL initially sold the broadcast rights for midweek evening games to television networks CBS and NBC for a combined US$900 million over two years. But, uniquely, it offered the streaming rights on a separate tender, with Twitter reportedly seeing off rival proposals from Verizon, Amazon, Facebook and Yahoo. 7KHĂ&#x20AC;VFDOGLVSDULW\EHWZHHQ the winning bids highlights the experimental nature of the enterprise. For the big broadcasters, the NFL remains a reliable source of advertising income. According to specialist outlet Advertising Age, the average cost for a 30-second commercial during NBCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sunday Night Football was a little over US$625,000 in 2016. A social media simulcast is unlikely to be able to command such fees at this point, but the Thursday night exercise will soon show brands how fans are engaging with live content on Twitter, and in what numbers. The NFL may, for now, have placed social media on a football fanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second screen but there are senior Ă&#x20AC;JXUHVDW7ZLWWHUZKRDUHFHUWDLQLW ZLOOEHFRPHDĂ&#x20AC;UVWVFUHHQWRERRW

The modern preference for watching sport on smartphones or tablets is certainly affecting traditional broadcast numbers. The NFLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2016 season has drastic declines in ratings for its four linear broadcasters, with a cumulative 14 per cent drop prior to the US presidential election that steadied to eight per cent afterwards. The viewerships of Sunday Night Football, for which NBC pays the NFL US$950 million per season, and Monday Night Football, for which ESPN pays an annual US$1.9 billion, were the worst hit, declining by 12 per cent and ten per cent respectively. 1HHGOHVVWRVD\WKRVHĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVDUH QRWDWUXHUHĂ HFWLRQRI WKHSRSXODULW\ of football, or sport as a whole, in the US. It is more a representation of the changing habits of the modern consumer, especially those younger viewers who are more comfortable online, habitually watching multiple windows at once. This downturn is not the reserve of the NFL and nor is it exclusive to the US. In 2015, UK pay-TV rivals Sky Sports and BT Sport paid the Premier League a combined record UKÂŁ5.14billion (US$6.2 billion) over three seasons for the domestic ULJKWVWR(QJOLVKVRFFHU¡VWRSĂ LJKW However, since the mega-deal Sky Sports has reportedly seen a 19 per cent drop in viewers. The cost of premium sports packages is blamed by some but statistics from Google indicate more people in the UK than ever are searching for Premier League streams. Both broadcasters have begun to rethink their online output, with Sky making near-live clips available on Twitter and BT teaming up with YouTube to showcase another of its live soccer assets, the Uefa Champions /HDJXHĂ&#x20AC;QDOZKLFKPXVWEHVKRZQRQ a free-to-air basis. These are likely to EHRQO\WKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWVWHSV Even though many broadcast channels have developed over-the-top (OTT) platforms, the number of

SportsPro Magazine | 69


eyes that Facebook or Snapchat can garner globally eclipses traditional networks. And alongside social media, video on demand (VOD) sites are eyeing up a piece of the live sport pie. Amazon is expected to be at the forefront but is yet to show its hand. US entertainment company Hulu, however, has announced plans for a live streaming package that will include sports programming, EHFRPLQJWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWRQGHPDQG subscription service to do so. As a backdrop to all of this is the high percentage of live streaming that is done illegally: either using a restricted foreign broadcast or illicitly engaging third-party platforms like Periscope. By bringing the leading digital players closer into the fold, rights holders can combat these abuses and help reduce the demand for back-door services. It is plain to see that sportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relationship with television is changing and 2016 might be remembered as the year that digital truly arrived. With the new year upon us, SportsPro takes a look at what the key players in VOD and social media are up to with their respective live platforms, whether they are taking the stage or waiting in the wings.

Twitter The groundbreaking US$10 million deal with the NFL for the rights to stream some of the leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Thursday Night Football games has seen the microblogging site lead the way as a live sports platform. The soft launch of this new approach to sports content began with the help of ESPN at The Championships, Wimbledon, to much acclaim. The tennis tournamentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s handle presented exclusive interviews extended highlights and some live play. Twitter has since signed a partnership with Australian broadcaster Seven West Media for the streaming rights to the Ă&#x20AC;UVWWHQQLV*UDQG6ODPRI WKH Australian Open. Last year Pac-12 Networks, the multimedia arm of the Pac-12 US collegiate athletic conference, agreed a deal to allow the social network to live stream at least 150 games over the

70 |

FRXUVHRI WKHDFDGHPLF\HDU )XUWKHUPRUHWKHEHJLQQLQJRI  saw golf â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s PGA Tour sign up with the network to stream action from 31 tournaments in the year ahead. $V7ZLWWHUFRQWLQXHVWRUHGHĂ&#x20AC;QH itself through the medium of live video it has signed content partnerships with the likes of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) and Sky Sports in the UK.

Facebook Although Facebook, through its Facebook Live platform, is still rooted in exclusive behind the scenes content, it is tentatively moving into live sport. Before the Rio 2016 Olympics it showed nine USA basketball menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national team exhibition games on Facebook Live via the Facebook pages of the NBA and USA Basketball. ,Q0D\/D/LJDEHFDPHWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW European soccer league to globally broadcast a match on Facebook Live when it showed a Spanish womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ă&#x20AC;UVWGLYLVLRQĂ&#x20AC;[WXUHEHWZHHQ$WOHWLFR Madrid and Athletic Club. This was preceded by the testimonial match between Everton and Manchester United to celebrate the career of English soccer star Wayne Rooney, which was made available via the Red 'HYLOV¡RIĂ&#x20AC;FLDOSDJH Facebook Live also carried all 34 games of West Indian cricket

Traditional viewing ďŹ gures for the Premier League have dropped this season as supporters turn to alterantive methods of catching the action

competition the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in 40 countries around WKHZRUOG7KHGHDOZDVWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW of its kind for any global cricket tournament. In the US, the Atlantic 10 conference also unveiled a groundbreaking agreement that will see EDVNHWEDOOĂ&#x20AC;[WXUHVEURDGFDVWOLYHRQ WKHSODWIRUPLQDFROOHJHVSRUWVĂ&#x20AC;UVW ,QWKH1%$ZLOOOLYHVWUHDP DJDPHRQ)DFHERRNIRUWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW time, but only to users in India. The leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Facebook page will stream the Sacramento Kings versus Golden State Warriors game for its followers in the subcontinent country for free.

Snapchat Although its instant messaging service, Snapchat, does not have any live content in its portfolio, the freshly rechristened Snap Inc is building a strong presence in sport and it seems a matter of time before it makes a meaningful breakthrough in the sector. In the meantime, it has been making inroads with sports partnerships with almost every major sports league and organisation in the US, and many abroad, including the NBA, NFL, National Hockey League (NHL), MLB, PGA, Wimbledon, Nascar, Formula One and several European soccer teams. Its â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Live Storiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; series is also a useful means for documenting the many different points of views surrounding a sporting occasion. It signed a two-year deal with Turner Sports encompassing events like

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According to a November 2016 report in the Wall Street Journal, Amazon has been scheming WRÂśLQĂ&#x20AC;OWUDWHWKHODVWEDVWLRQRI  traditional pay-television: live sportsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. The online retail giant has reportedly held talks with the NBA, MLB, NFL, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Lacrosse League (NLL) for the rights to carry live games. If a successful platform can be built, live streaming would be available to members of Amazon Prime. In the meantime, Prime users have access to original non-live content, including documentary series like All or Nothing, which followed the Arizona Cardinalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 2015 NFL season, and Novak, which will chart tennis star Novak Djokovicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2017 campaign. March Madness basketball, college baseball and professional golf. Furthermore, it has agreed a multiyear partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In November, the NHLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 0LQQHVRWD:LOGEHFDPHWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW team in professional sport to begin using Snapchat Spectacles. Players and staff have been using the bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled 86H\HZHDUZKLFKLVĂ&#x20AC;WWHG with a video camera, to record and share intimate behind-the-scenes experiences like skate-sharpening sessions and a mascotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye view of the arena. The platform has now signed deals with the NFL and NBA for its new OLYHVFRUHVSRUWĂ&#x20AC;OWHUVWKDWZLOORIIHU fans up to the minute match updates.

Sina Weibo At the end of 2016, the NFL entered a strategic partnership agreement with Chinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest social media platform. Following an initial six regular-season games the Twitterstyle Sina Weibo will live stream, in China, three play-off games including the Super Bowl. The NFL agreement marks a departure from Sinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s previous approach, where its Sina Sports platform had been the home of live content and Sina Weibo provided support and engagement as a public

72 |

Fans use their mobile phones to capture LeBron James receiving the Larry Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien NBA Championship Trophy

forum. Indeed, only a few months ago Sam Li, the head of content acquisition and strategic partnerships at the Chinese digital platform Sina Sports, dismissed the idea of live streaming sport on Sina Weibo because it â&#x20AC;&#x153;already has the platformâ&#x20AC;?. Sina Sports currently has content partnerships in place with the likes of soccerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Uefa Champions League, Bundesliga, AFC Champions League and Premier League, the China Open tennis tournament, and golf â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s PGA Tour.

Amazon With its unique reach, its commercial GLYHUVLW\DQGLWVĂ&#x20AC;QDQFLDOSRZHU not to mention the success of its Amazon Prime subscription VOD service, global e-commerce giant Amazon has long been mooted for a move into sports rights. In 2016, it seemed to move into position for an assault. Last March, former CBS and Sports Illustrated executive James DeLorenzo was brought in as head of sports for Amazon Video Channels. He was joined in May by Charlie Neiman, formerly of YouTube, who took on responsibility for sports partnerships and business development, while the group also advertised last year for a principal content acquisition manager â&#x20AC;&#x201C; sports.

Hulu The prospects for many VOD platforms in sport â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such as LQWHUQDWLRQDOPDUNHWOHDGHU1HWĂ L[ â&#x20AC;&#x201C; are a matter of conjecture at this point. Hulu, however, is already building concrete steps towards a live platform. The joint venture between major linear broadcast players The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, Comcast, and Time Warner is WKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWRQGHPDQGHQWHUWDLQPHQW company to announce plans for a live streaming service that will include sports programming. The subscription video company is set to launch a live streaming service in the coming months and, at the time of writing, holds the aces over rival DirecTV, following a January 2017 agreement with CBS Corporation for its channels CBS and more relevantly CBS Sports Network. As a result, Hulu will have access to the networkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coverage of the NFL, the NCAA menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s college basketball tournament, Southeastern Conference soccer, Masters golf and college football. In addition to CBS, Hulu already has agreements to stream the sports content that can be found on Fox and ABC, including Fox Sports Networks and ESPNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plethora of channels.

SportsPro Magazine | 72



hink of the best ATP World Tour Final ever. Going back in time, what about this gem: Ivan Lendl vs Boris Becker, Nabisco Masters Final, 1988. KRXUVDQGPLQXWHVRIWKHČ´QHVWWHQQLV The legend vs the future. The hardest physical challenge. Becker winning on a net-cord, completely worn out. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When the ball hit the net, I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see where the ball had landed. I was waiting for the umpire and the crowdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reactionâ&#x20AC;? said the German. A true classic. Like some old movies, you never get tired of watching a match like that. And thanks to this OTT revolution we are experiencing, you can now relive the feel of clashes like that whenever you want, wherever you want.

The new Tennis TV, revamped by DeltatreRÎ?HUVLWVVXEVFULEHUVDQ impressive archive of classic ATP World Tour matches, along with the streaming of up to 2000 live matches every year. A great solution for a sport federation to digitally leverage owned content that wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have been used in any other way. On the other side of the fence, sport broadcasters have the same opportunity of going to their audience with something new. Take a football match as an example of the possibilities: what about enabling viewers to choose from several camera angles to watch a replay? Let them go back and forth on a timeline to catch-up with the main events of the match?

Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot of sports content, not used on linear TV that can enhance broadcastersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; OTT solutions - and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a whole new way for fans to consume live sports on GLJLWDOPHGLDRÎ?HULQJWKHPDČ&#x160;%H\RQG79Č&#x2039; experience. Good news for all players involved is that sport fans truly crave all this content : 90% of them are willing to pay for it, especially younger generations*. Whether it is an old classic to be watched on demand or the unforgettable game that has still to come, the thirst for sports content is something that will never wane.

* Source: Digital Future at USC Annenberg


Zach Leonsis, vice president and general manager of Monumental Sports Network


The Washington DC sports market is dominated by the Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group, whose portfolio includes ice hockey’s Capitals and basketball’s Wizards and Mystics. Now it is ramping up its media efforts and going over the top with its Monumental Sports Network. By Michael Long

74 |


f 2016 will be remembered as the year in which sports broadcasting truly went digital, it will also go down as the year in which Monumental Sports & (QWHUWDLQPHQW 06( Ă&#x20AC;QDOO\UHDOLVHG its ambition of becoming a digitalĂ&#x20AC;UVWPXOWLIDFHWHGVSRUWVPHGLD enterprise. Last year, one of the largest and fastest-growing franchise and venue operators in North America expanded again, adding new assets to its existing portfolio and venturing into unchartered waters under the guidance of its founder and chairman, Ted Leonsis. All told, MSE now owns and RSHUDWHVĂ&#x20AC;YHSURIHVVLRQDOVSRUWV teams: the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Washington Mystics of the Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and two Arena Football League (AFL) franchises â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the Washington Valor and a new, as-yet-unnamed team that will be based in Baltimore. The group also operates the Verizon Center in Washington DC, the Kettler Capitals Iceplex â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which is the Capitalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; training complex â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and EagleBank Arena on George Mason Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s campus, while it is co-owner of aXiomatic, a newly formed investment group which acquired a controlling interest in the Team Liquid eSports franchise and a stake in Super League Gaming towards the end of last year. $UJXDEO\06(¡VPRVWVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQW move of the last 12 months, however, came in October, when the group agreed terms on a longawaited media rights agreement with CSN Mid-Atlantic. Under the deal, the NBC Sports Group-owned regional sports network would continue to provide live coverage of the Capitals and Wizards, airing all non-nationally televised regularseason and play-off games, as well as select pre-season games and game day shows. But the renewal of those rights, while the cornerstone of the partnership, was not what made the GHDOHVSHFLDOO\VLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQW,QVWHDGLW was an innovative equity exchange

â&#x20AC;&#x153;MILLENNIALS REALLY FIND A LOT OF VALUE IN REAL-LIFE TOUCHPOINTS AND EXPERIENCES.â&#x20AC;? and leadership structuring between MSE and CSN that garnered much of the attention. Described by MSE at the time as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;an advanced media partnershipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, the deal saw the company obtain a onethird stake in CSN and two positions on the networkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s six-person board of directors. In return, NBC Sports Group acquired an equity stake and board representation in Monumental Sports Network (MSN), MSEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ă HGJOLQJGLJLWDOVSRUWVDQG entertainment arm. The deal itself was widely seen as a smart play by Leonsis, who had for years touted MSN as a potential home for the Capitals and Wizards and repeatedly emphasised the importance of sports properties controlling their own distribution channels. That the new partnership saw his network retain neither teamsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rights was beside the point. As the Washington Post put it at the time, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;creating MSN was widely seen as a warning to CSN, with Leonsis publicly arguing that to stay competitive, Monumental would either need to launch its own cable QHWZRUNRUUHFHLYHVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWO\ higher fees from CSNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. In the end, Leonsis was able to do both. Not only did the new GHDOLQFOXGHDVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWKLNHLQ rights fees for Capitals and Wizards games, but within days of the announcement MSN launched an all-new over-the-top (OTT) subscription service to complement CSN Mid-Atlanticâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exclusive coverage of the two teams. Run by Leonsisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; son Zach, the service now offers live streams of other MSE properties including the Mystics and Valor, as well as a host of additional behind the scenes programming, coverage of the Capitalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; minor OHDJXHDIĂ&#x20AC;OLDWHWHDPV²WKH+HUVKH\ Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the East Coast

MSN subscribers receive perks such as the chance to meet athletes

Hockey Leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (ECHL) South Carolina Stingrays â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and local highschool basketball. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been really trying to create this interesting, regionalised approach to the OTT subscription bundle,â&#x20AC;? explains Zach Leonsis, who serves as vice president and general manager of MSN. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think that a lot of leagues have taken a league-wide approach to an OTT subscription, either built around out-of-market rights or, in some other leagues outside of the big four, you might get in-market rights as well. The value that those leagues push is that you can watch any game in the league. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wonderful and WKHUH¡VGHĂ&#x20AC;QLWHO\DORWRI YDOXHWKHUH but most people really just care about their home team and hometown sports. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re hyperlocal. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d be SUHVVHGWRĂ&#x20AC;QGDQRWKHUH[DPSOHRI  someone who is trying to bundle multiple home teams across multiple calendar seasons, multiple leagues â&#x20AC;&#x201C; professional, grassroots, youth and the like.â&#x20AC;?

That one-city, multiple-team approach is indeed a novel one, and it is for that reason that Leonsis has taken to calling the network â&#x20AC;&#x153;a petri dish of experimentationâ&#x20AC;?, both for Monumental and Comcast-owned NBC. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are already seeing the upside of what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like to have a really big strategic partner,â&#x20AC;? he says during a phone interview with SportsPro in early December. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In speaking about who to partner with on a new, sports-related broadcast venture, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how many other partners there would be outside of Comcast and NBC Sports. Obviously they are Ă&#x20AC;UVWLQFODVVRQDQLQWHUQDWLRQDO

SportsPro Magazine | 75


basis in terms of sports rights, sports production and, of course, distribution as well. They really play in the big leagues, so there are opportunities for us as a small startup within their portfolio to experiment with things that maybe they wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to try right off the bat.â&#x20AC;? That spirit of experimentation is primarily seen in MSNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original programming, which is produced in-house by a team of around 40 production staff. Since the network LVQRWFRQVWUDLQHGE\DQDIĂ&#x20AC;OLDWH deal with a cable provider or a multi-system operator, it has more freedom to be creative when it comes to producing its own shows. Leonsis points to the example of a new interview show hosted by Reggie Love, the former aide to outgoing president Barack Obama, and The Basketball Tournament, â&#x20AC;&#x153;a winner-takes-all, grassroots, March Madness-styleâ&#x20AC;? event that offers a US$2 million grand prize. Beyond that, he says, there is a solid helping of on-demand â&#x20AC;&#x153;bingeworthy contentâ&#x20AC;? to further bolster the networkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more than 80 hours of original programming per year. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing several list shows; weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;hard knocksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; series with one of our Arena Football League teams, behind the scenes access, so people can see what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like to see the birth of a franchise from the start,â&#x20AC;? he says. Leonsis adds that much of the original programming MSE currently produces is distributed for free via social media with the intention of drawing more viewers to the service. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We really try to leverage our great social following between the Capitals, the Wizards and our other teams,â&#x20AC;? he continues. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Through that, we see a VLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWDPRXQWRI YLGHRYLHZV and then we keep a lot of the more evergreen content and other original programming behind the paywall for our subscribers to enjoy.â&#x20AC;? But original programming is just one aspect of this unique content laboratory. Plans are also in the works to explore helmet cams, cheerleader correspondents during games, and the use of new user-interface

76 |

experiences such as presenting game coverage vertically to suit smartphone viewing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We also want to experiment with different content types,â&#x20AC;? says Leonsis. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think our competitive advantage, our strategic advantage, is that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re small and nimble, so weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll throw a lot of darts up on the board in year one and learn quickly and adjust accordingly.â&#x20AC;? MSN is offered to subscribers at a price point similar to entertainment streaming services VXFKDV1HWĂ L[+XOXDQG6SRWLI\ Subscriptions are priced at US$8.99 per month with a fullyear commitment, or US$12.99 per month with no commitment, and will be bundled within Capitals and Wizards seasonticket plans starting later this year. Yet Leonsis sees plenty of other ways to monetise the service, too. A presenting sponsorship has already been sold to Ticketmaster, and he believes the network is also capable of offering further value to Monumentalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s existing corporate partners. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We really think that offering them the opportunity to also advertise and be a part of Monumental Sports Network is valuable because of the audience base that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to reach,â&#x20AC;? he adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Millennials and Gen-Z consumers are typically a top SULRULW\RI FKLHI PDUNHWLQJRIĂ&#x20AC;FHUVDW all the biggest and major brands, so this is really a platform where we can reach out to them.â&#x20AC;?

MSNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original programming is produced inhouse by a team of around 40 production staďŹ&#x20AC;

MSN also offers more creative ways to integrate brand partners into what Leonsis calls â&#x20AC;&#x153;real-life events and experiencesâ&#x20AC;?. As well as producing original programming, the network offers or plans to offer perks to its subscribers in the form of limited-edition merchandise, autograph sessions, and other experiential events such as mixology classes and workouts with coaches and athletes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We NQRZWKDWPLOOHQQLDOVUHDOO\Ă&#x20AC;QGD lot of value in real-life touchpoints and experiences,â&#x20AC;? says Leonsis, â&#x20AC;&#x153;so if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a subscriber you get access to monthly events that leverage our ability to access players, venues and the like. We have had a lot of interest from corporate partners and I think that people want to be associated with something that is different and new, so weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re enjoying that upside right now. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what people are interested in,â&#x20AC;? he adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We try to pitch this as a personal sports network â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s local, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about your team, you can get to know the players. I think that a lot of the teams that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be streaming â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ie our AFL teams or the Mystics â&#x20AC;&#x201C; are more accessible than teams in the major four leagues as well. ,WUHDOO\OHQGVLWVHOI WRĂ H[LELOLW\ with creating really unique broadcast experiences and real-life experiences. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing our best to experiment and try new things out here.â&#x20AC;?

MSN is currently available across a variety of devices and platforms, including iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and online at MonumentalSportsNetwork. com. There are also plans, according to Leonsis, to secure distribution on Xbox and Playstation consoles â&#x20AC;&#x153;in the not-too-distant futureâ&#x20AC;?. Though he wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t reveal subscriber take-up to date, Leonsis says early download numbers have been promising. Video views, he says, are approaching ten million on a monthly basis, with rates spiking around popular live events involving MSE properties. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had huge growth since launch,â&#x20AC;? he adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even hit the two-month point of being live and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re happy with what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re seeing so far.â&#x20AC;? Leonsis puts much of MSNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s initial success down to the size and demographics of the Washington DC market and surrounding areas. He calls the region â&#x20AC;&#x153;a real hotbed for millennials and Gen-Z consumersâ&#x20AC;?, with â&#x20AC;&#x153;a disproportionately high number of millennial purchasersâ&#x20AC;? making up its roughly 7.5 million population between Richmond to the south and Baltimore to the north. And then there is the fact that that population is projected to double over the coming decade. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We think that is one of our best and greatest assets, so we really wanted to try to be forward-

thinking and reach consumers in ways that they hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been reached in the past,â&#x20AC;? says Leonsis. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have WRĂ&#x20AC;QGDZD\WRUHDFKFRQVXPHUV who may never be cable customers, and I think there is going to be a growing subset of sports and, frankly, audience communities that will never have a home on cable â&#x20AC;&#x201C; eSports being one of them.â&#x20AC;? Given the nature of the DC market, Leonsis sees eSports as a particularly compelling opportunity for MSN. Though he believes the sector and its leading leagues, teams and athletes will continue WRĂ&#x20AC;QGWKHLUSULPDU\RXWOHWRQ existing distribution channels like Twitch and YouTube, he sees no reason why team-owned networks like MSN cannot be complementary, just as other OTT VHUYLFHVOLNH1HWĂ L[DUHQRZZLGHO\ seen as viable supplements to the traditional cable bundle. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People are really engaged into who these players are,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in the community, \RXTXLFNO\Ă&#x20AC;QGRXWWKDWSHRSOH worship some of these players the same way theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re fans of LeBron James or John Wall or Alex Ovechkin or any traditional athlete. I think that there are some people who are just getting exposed to the eSports world and really enjoy it. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll try to use that. I also think there are growing opportunities around regionalised approaches

Athletes at MSEowned properties feature heavily in MSN content

to eSports, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll look towards being a testing ground for a regionalised approach as well.â&#x20AC;? Though MSE is something of DĂ&#x20AC;UVWPRYHULQWKHWHDPRSHUDWHG OTT space, others are also exploring the creation of similar direct-toconsumer streaming services as the sports industry adapts to changing market trends and consumption habits. On the US west coast, for example, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has designs of his own, having secured a new local TV deal with Fox Sports Prime Ticket in September that included plans to conduct â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;in-market tests for new, innovative digital offerings on a trial basis to a targeted number of fansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. For now, though, MSE is venturing out alone, trialling an untried and untested distribution model that Ballmer and others will no doubt be monitoring closely. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think that we have any PLVFRQFHSWLRQVDERXWKRZGLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOW this is to try to prove a new model but I think we have the great advantage of being a large sports and entertainment enterprise,â&#x20AC;? notes Leonsis. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This would SUREDEO\EHGLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOWIRUDRQHRII  group to do on its own but, within the infrastructure of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, we think that really provides us with huge strategic advantage and a platform from which to launch this with. We have so much content in our existing base bundle, if you will, that we can be additive. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And also, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think the OTT world is really going anywhere. I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re playing a long ball here, trying to take a strategic long-term YLHZRI Ă&#x20AC;YHWHQHYHQ\HDUVRXW of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;what does the world look like?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; In that regard I think we are strategically hedged and obviously NBC Sports Group feels the same. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d love to see this work, obviously, and see if maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s applicable for other markets. So yes, I do feel that people are watching with great intrigue and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m thrilled that thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the case. Hopefully we can live up to peoplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; expectations. I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing some interesting stuff and it will be fun to see how it pans out.â&#x20AC;?

SportsPro Magazine | 77

ARROWS POINTING UP The sport of darts is undergoing a renaissance, with its popularity growing across Europe. The 2017 edition of the Professional Darts Corporation William Hill World Darts Championship was the biggest to date, with records broken for ticket sales and TV viewing ďŹ gures. SportsPro went behind the scenes at Alexandra Palace to ďŹ nd out what is driving the ever-increasing appetite for the arrows. By Adam Nelson


he 2017 Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) William Hill World Darts Championship marked the tenth successive edition of the tournament to be held at Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Alexandra Palace. It has been a decade that, in retrospect, neatly marks out a new, modern era for the PDC and for the sport of darts itself, which has experienced a resurgence of popularity over that period. The World Championshipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s previous venue, the Circus Tavern LQ3XUĂ HHW(VVH[KDGĂ&#x20AC;UPO\ established itself as the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home of darts over the course of the tournamentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 14-year residency there, but in 2007 PDC chairman Barry Hearn sensed an opportunity for growth and seized at the chance to PRYHWKHVHDVRQĂ&#x20AC;QDOHWRRQHRI WKH

78 |

UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most iconic venues. Since that time, by every metric â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ticket sales, YLHZLQJĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVVSRQVRUVKLSVDOHV prize money â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the championship has grown exponentially. Across the course of two and a half weeks over the Christmas period, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Ally Pallyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, as the venue is colloquially known, is transformed LQWRDIXOO\Ă HGJHGGHGLFDWHG darts venue, and the development of the sport is apparent almost immediately. The slick, professional operation incorporates all the staples of a major sporting event, from the 3,000-seater arena in the West Hall and a huge fanzone comprising food and drink stands and title sponsor William Hillâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own on-site betting shop, to a VIP hospitality area and even regular appearances from special celebrity guests. On the night

The PDC World Darts Championship has grown signiďŹ cantly over the last decade, with Alexandra Palaceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s West Hall sold out for every night of the twoweek event

SportsProLVLQDWWHQGDQFH(QJOLVK soccer star Frank Lampard takes on TV host Bradley Walsh in a threedart showdown before the main event gets underway. The one giveaway that this is no ordinary sporting occasion comes in the form of the darts faithful who, as ever, make a night at â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;the arrowsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; an occasion unlike any other. Fans arrive adorned in the fanciest of fancy dress, from a troop of soldiers to a waddle of SHQJXLQVFRPSOHWHZLWKĂ LSSHUV The noise levels in the arena rarely drop below 11, even between games, with chants of â&#x20AC;&#x153;stand up if you love the dartsâ&#x20AC;? ringing around Alexandra Palace throughout the night. According to William Hill, the bookmaker handed out over 50,000 blue Santa hats and 70,000

Lawrence Lustig/PDC


donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know another sport that creates atmosphere on that basis, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something we have to maintain, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s our USP.â&#x20AC;? The formula certainly seems to be working. For the 2018 edition, a move into Alexandra Palaceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Great Hall is mooted, with the potential of doubling the current 3,000 capacity in the West Hall. 66,000 tickets were available for the 2017 tournament; 65,000 of those were sold on the Ă&#x20AC;UVWGD\WKH\ZHUHUHOHDVHG2Q the basis of this sustained growth, Hearn has been able to announce total prize money of UKÂŁ11 million (US$13.7 million) across all the 3'&¡VFRPSHWLWLRQVLQ²Ă&#x20AC;YH times the amount it was when the World Championship moved to Alexandra Palace a decade ago, and a target Hearn set for the sport just two years ago, never expecting to hit it so soon. He has now revised his goal to UKÂŁ20 million (US$24.5 million). Part of the sportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s newfound popularity can be attributed to a greater level of competitiveness RQWKHERDUG,QWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW\HDUV of the World Championshipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s existence, after the PDCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s split from the British Darts Organisation (BDO), there were four winners, ZLWKUHOHQWOHVV(QJOLVKPDQ3KLO â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Powerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Taylor taking home the title on no fewer than 11 occasions. In the ten years since the move to Alexandra Palace, WKHUHKDYHEHHQĂ&#x20AC;YHGLIIHUHQW winners and while Taylorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s powers have not diminished, rivals have HPHUJHGRIWHQIURPIDUWKHUDĂ&#x20AC;HOG than dartsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; traditional north of (QJODQGEDVH6FRWODQG¡V*DU\ Anderson and Dutchman Michael



Dartsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; party atmosphere has long been one of its greatest selling points

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;180â&#x20AC;&#x2122; banners over the fortnight to audience members, who respond to almost every dart thrown with raucous enthusiasm. The idea of darts as a night out as much as a sporting event is, arguably, the major remaining call back to an earlier era of the sport. For a generation of British television viewers, darts remains infused with a certain stereotype. The after-hours lifestyles of players, the madcap commentary of Sid Waddell, the variety act stylings of primetime game show Bullseye and, perhaps most damagingly, a Not the Nine Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Clock News sketch which saw Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones as darts players who competed by seeing who could drink the most alcohol, all contributed to an image of the game as a beer-fuelled pub pastime more than a professional sport. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an image the PDC has worked hard to shed â&#x20AC;&#x201C; largely with success, it must be said â&#x20AC;&#x201C; although as the bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chairman Matt Porter points out, the game must not lose sight of the fact that for the fans, it remains an integral part of the in-venue experience. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Darts is about that great combination of sport and entertainment,â&#x20AC;? says Porter, speaking to SportsPro on the second evening of the 2017 PDC World Championship. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The crowd come to watch fantastic world class darts but also to enjoy themselves. And they do that by dressing up, having a drink, being with their friends, celebrating Christmas, celebrating 180s and big checkouts, the walk-ons, the whole atmosphere that darts creates. We canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t lose sight of that. The game must not become monotonous or predictable or boring in any way.â&#x20AC;? It is a perspective with which Hearn agrees and, from his experience promoting sports as diverse as boxing and snooker across the world, he more than anyone understands the balance that must be struck. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Darts is such a unique sport,â&#x20AC;? says Hearn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is the only sport that has a partnership with the excitement of a party and world class competition. I

van Gerwen have both claimed two titles â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and between them the last four â&#x20AC;&#x201C; since the move, with an increased international outlook being another way in which the sport has transcended its roots in recent years. That growth â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which has come especially from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany â&#x20AC;&#x201C; was not a long-gestating master plan from the PDC, but part of a natural progression that particularly followed the success of Van Gerwen and his countryman Raymond van Barneveld before him. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t marketed [the World Championship] internationally in any other way apart from staging events in different countries and having TV exposure,â&#x20AC;? explains Porter. The PDC, through its PDC (XURSHVXEVLGLDU\QRZUXQVQLQH (XURSHDQ7RXUHYHQWVLQ*HUPDQ\ holds Premier League nights in WKH1HWKHUODQGVDQGWKH(XURSHDQ Championship in Belgium. The expansion began when events organiser Werner von Moltke approached Hearn, believing that darts was a sport ready-made for the German market. Molkte subsequently founded the German Darts Corporation (GDC), which QRZRSHUDWHVDV3'&(XURSH â&#x20AC;&#x153;The TV exposure through RTL7 in the Netherlands â&#x20AC;&#x201C; who have their own on-site broadcast team here â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Sport 1 and Dazn LQ*HUPDQ\DQG(OHYHQ6SRUWV Network in Belgium gives us a really solid spread across that market and lots of exposure,â&#x20AC;? Porter adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s obviously our best advert for the product, so the more exposure we get, and the fact that culturally those countries are quite similar to the UK in terms of the demographic who would want to come to the darts, the PRUHRXUSURĂ&#x20AC;OH¡VULVLQJLQWKRVH countries, participation levels are rising and fan levels are as well. So thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more and more people watching darts in those countries and being prepared to travel. They see it as a fun weekend, they might catch a football match, come over for a few days to see the World

SportsPro Magazine | 79


Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Dutchman Michael van Gerwen celebrates with the Sid Waddell Trophy after winning the 2017 PDC World Darts Championships

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re seeing unbelievable figures, and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still on an upward trend.â&#x20AC;? Championship.â&#x20AC;? &DVWLQJKLVPLQGEDFNWRKLVĂ&#x20AC;UVW DWWHPSWVWREUHDN(XURSHDURXQG a decade ago, Hearn recalls selling â&#x20AC;&#x153;50 tickets in advance, and another 50 on the nightâ&#x20AC;? for an event in Germany. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Today, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in 3,000 and 4,000-seater venues, we sell out in a day, every single event,â&#x20AC;? he says. In 2017, over 7,500 tickets were sold to German fans travelling to London for the World Championship, with a further 4,000 going to Dutch followers of the game. Almost all of these fans will have made their initial contact with darts through television broadcasts before moving on to attending live events. While the atmosphere inside the arena is one of dartsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; greatest selling points, packaging the product outside the arena is one of the sportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest challenges. It is, as Hearn points out, â&#x20AC;&#x153;probably the only sport in the world which isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t visible with the naked eyeâ&#x20AC;?,

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with even those watching inside Alexandra Palace relying on giant displays and the commentary from legendary announcer John McDonald to follow the contest. The entirety of the action takes place over a distance of little under two and a half metres, with players aiming at a board less than half a metre in diameter. The person tasked with providing a solution to this challenge in the UK is Georgina Faulkner, head of multi sport at pay-TV giant Sky Sports. The multi sport department was created by Sky to oversee those sports in its portfolio which do not Ă&#x20AC;WLQWRWKHWUDGLWLRQDO\HDUURXQG seasonal model. Faulkner points to the National Football Leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (NFL) concise 23-week campaign as a prime example, but darts forms one of the cornerstones of multi sportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s output. Sky Sports has been one of the primary broadcast partners of the PDC since the start, and both Faulker

and Hearn believe the network KDVSOD\HGDVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWUROHLQWKH development of the game. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Darts is always viewed as very important for Sky, and particularly the World Championship,â&#x20AC;? says Faulkner. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a sport that Sky is particularly proud of because, along with the PDC, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve really helped to shape and grow the sport and we feel proud of our position within that landscape in a sport that continues to engage and entertain people.â&#x20AC;? Alongside golf â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ryder Cup and Masters and cricketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ashes, the PDC World Championship is one of the few events to receive what Faulkner describes as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;pop-up channelâ&#x20AC;? from Sky Sports, with a temporary station known as Sky Sports Darts appearing on the schedule for the duration of the tournament. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Like a lot of our big title events, ZHZDQWLWWREHDIRFXVLQWKH(3* [electronic programme guide] so it really stands out for people,â&#x20AC;? says Faulkner. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a reminder to all those die-hard fans, but also to anybody who might not put darts as one of their top sports but, as WKH\¡UHORRNLQJWKURXJKWKH(3* theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see that immediately and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see that this is the event at the moment and hopefully it helps to engage people.â&#x20AC;? Porter certainly believes it has done so, claiming that reports from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) bear out the PDCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RZQLQWHUQDOĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVVKRZLQJGDUWV to be the second most popular sport on Sky Sports after soccer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We had a huge amount of JURZWKIRXURUĂ&#x20AC;YH\HDUVDJRDQG that growth wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t going to continue DWWKDWOHYHOLQGHĂ&#x20AC;QLWHO\EHFDXVH WKHUHDUHDĂ&#x20AC;QLWHQXPEHURI SHRSOH out there watching satellite TV,â&#x20AC;? says Porter. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at a point now ZKHUHRXUYLHZLQJĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVDUHYHU\ stable and our ratings are extremely respectable. On ITV weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had peaks of over a million and on Sky, especially Sky Sports Darts which is fantastic credibility for the sport. For us to have blanket coverage over the Christmas period is fantastic.â&#x20AC;? 7KHYLHZLQJĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVPD\KDYH


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Lawrence Lustig/PDC


levelled out on a macro scale, but darts continues to push its own OLPLWVLQFUHPHQWDOO\WKHĂ&#x20AC;QDO peaked with 1.7 million viewers in the UK, 200,000 more than the SUHYLRXVKLJKZKLOHHDUO\Ă&#x20AC;JXUHV from RTL7 in the Netherlands indicate that over 2.1 million people tuned in to watch Van Gerwen GHIHDW$QGHUVRQLQWKHĂ&#x20AC;QDO â&#x20AC;&#x201C; equivalent to roughly 12 per cent of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entire population and a 25 per cent market share for the broadcaster. In Germany, meanwhile, Sport1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s highest ever YLHZLQJĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVFDPHGXULQJWKH :RUOG&KDPSLRQVKLSĂ&#x20AC;QDO which was watched by 1.8 million Teutonic darts devotees. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These are XQEHOLHYDEOHĂ&#x20AC;JXUHVDQGWKH\¡UHVWLOO on an upward trend,â&#x20AC;? says Porter. Creating an engaging televisual spectacle from darts is no easy feat, but clearly something is going right. Faulkner believes her team have now honed their art, and she pays particular tribute to Keith Deller, the former professional darts player turned Sky Sports â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;spotterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Deller is the man responsible for calling where the players will aim next on the board, dictating which shot the TV director should go to. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the things thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tough Ă&#x20AC;UVWDQGIRUHPRVWZLWKGDUWVLV that with a lot of sports â&#x20AC;&#x201C; football, rugby, your more traditional mainstream sports â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is that when

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A fan holds up one of 70,000 â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;180â&#x20AC;&#x2122; signs handed out by title sponsor WIlliam Hill


youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re on the wide shot, your â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;camera 1â&#x20AC;&#x2122; angle where you can see lots of the action happening, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s never a wrong angle because you can see whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going on,â&#x20AC;? explains Faulkner. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whereas with darts, if you go to the wide shot, it normally means something, somewhere has gone wrong. So itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a real team effort between our director, our cameramen and our spotter, Keith Deller. Everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s listening to him in terms of the checkout combinations and whether players are going on the top of the board or the lower part of the board. â&#x20AC;&#x153;All of that is essential because I think darts is a great sport to be viewed on television. As brilliant as it is to be in the arena and be part of the atmosphere and the event, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fabulous, but watching it at home gives you that intense, close-up view of what is happening in terms of the action on the board. As with any sport I think WKDWZRXOGEHRXUĂ&#x20AC;UVWWKLQJWR make sure the action is intense and we really do try to get over the intensity of the play in the match and how much it can swing back and forth and the pressure that is put on the players, with literally millimetres of difference between success and failure.â&#x20AC;? Successfully communicating the tension and excitement of the sport is a major hurdle, but the second is placing the viewer in the atmosphere of the arena, in the middle of 3,000 fans whipping up a frenzy. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the things that has always been part of that coverage, going back to the early days, was making sure that it is entertaining and that what is such a brilliant event in terms of the audience participation and the proximity of the crowd to the players, making sure that we got that across,â&#x20AC;? says Faulkner. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think all of the more jazzy elements, the walk-ons and everything, we want to make that look as it feels when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re there. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about being part of that party, and making sure that wherever possible and whenever appropriate we include the audience and the fans within that â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

lots of cutting to the crowd with their great costumes on and the sometimes hilarious signs that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be holding up, so that if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re sat at home Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d hope that Ă&#x20AC;UVWO\\RX¡GWKLQNEULOOLDQW,¡PSDUW of it, and secondly, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d really like WRJRDQGVHHWKDWLQWKHĂ HVKDQG soak up that atmosphere.â&#x20AC;? In 2017, viewers in 132 countries around the world have the opportunity to tune in and wish they were here. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unparalleled,â&#x20AC;? says Hearn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s including the whole of North America on ESPN and the whole of South America on ESPN LatAm. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Canada. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Asia. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Europe. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Australasia. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s everywhere from CCTV in China to Dazn Sport in Japan. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m so excited because, whilst I think this is an amazing achievement, I honestly truly believe this is just the beginning for a sport with no barriers to entry, with no expensive equipment, with no club fees to join â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in other words itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s open to everyone, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a totally classless sport built solely on ability.â&#x20AC;? With so many eyeballs on the game, the PDC is better placed than ever to attract commercial partners. The World Championshipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s title sponsor, English bookmaker William Hill, is halfway through its six-year contract with the tournament, and Dave Lynn, the betting companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head of sponsorships and partnerships, describes the three years it has had so far as â&#x20AC;&#x153;fantasticâ&#x20AC;?. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been unbelievable in terms of the uplift weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen in darts just over three years,â&#x20AC;? says Lynn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an exclusive sponsorship â&#x20AC;&#x201C; most of the other tournaments that the PDC run have all the partners represented on the backdrops and other areas, but we have exclusivity RQWKDWZKLFKJLYHVXVVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQW media values, and the audiences at times are comparable with some Premier League football matches.â&#x20AC;? Darts is particularly appealing to a betting company. Its rapid action means there are constant variables for punters to bet on and, as Lynn points out, the timing of the World

SportsPro Magazine | 82

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Championship could not be better. â&#x20AC;&#x153;From our perspective itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a key period of the year, right across Christmas,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People are getting their new iPads, iPhones, things like that, so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a key period in terms of downloads, which are massively up over that period. Obviously it gets great coverage from Sky, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s upwards of 90 hours live coverage over those two weeks. And obviously thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an international audience as well, in Holland and Germany which are emerging markets. We reach outside of the traditional UK audience through this. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It ticks a lot of the boxes in terms of the fact that you can duck in and duck out. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just about the accumulators, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about the in-play, which is key â&#x20AC;&#x201C; especially at the start of the tournament when some of the matches are quite uncompetitive from an outright perspective.â&#x20AC;? For Hearn, the challenge now is to capitalise on the sportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s increasingly strong position. Never one to rest on his laurels, the indomitable promoter is ready

More fans enter the spirit of the evening

to strike while the iron is hot. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I always say that complacency is the biggest killer in life, but sometimes LW¡VGLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOWQRWWREHFRPSODFHQW when things are going so well,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The happy news is that we DUHĂ \LQJÂľ With growth in Europe continuing apace and the UK fanbase gradually expanding, too, Hearn is ready to take another run at the market he calls the â&#x20AC;&#x153;golden gooseâ&#x20AC;?: the United States. Having had a previous stab at the US with the Las Vegas Desert Classic, which took place between 2002 and 2009, Hearn feels he and the PDC have learned from the lessons of the past. While Hearn is not taking anything for granted, 2017 will see the relaunch of the PDC in the States, to what he hopes will be a more receptive audience than last time. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The American market is the toughest in the world to crack for any sport,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;America is all about jam today and no investment in tomorrow. And thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why they cherry-pick the biggest events â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the Super Bowl, the NBA [National

Basketball Association] â&#x20AC;&#x201C; theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re established and they absorb all the money and everything else is considered a niche sport. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going back to Vegas, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to give it another crack. I think we would regret it if we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have another go there.â&#x20AC;? Whatever the future holds on the Atlanticâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s western shores, the sport remains in rude health in its home territory. The PDCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next targets will be further expansion into northern Europe â&#x20AC;&#x201C; there is already a small but loyal following in Scandinavia â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and, perhaps slightly further down the line, a search for a true successor in the UK to Phil Taylor, the SOD\HUZKRKDVGHĂ&#x20AC;QHGWKH3'& era but whose days at the oche are numbered after he signalled an intention to reduce his commitments over the coming years. With a selection of TV and sponsorship deals coming up for renewal in the coming seasons, KRZHYHU+HDUQZLOOEHFRQĂ&#x20AC;GHQW of reaching his bullseye target of UKÂŁ20 million in prize money sooner rather than later.

SportsPro Magazine | 83


JUST ABOUT MANAGING As the managing director and founder of agency International Sports Management, Andrew â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Chubbyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Chandler has been the architect of countless sporting careers over a quarter of a century. Yet his own career continues to evolve, with new clients, a burgeoning interest in horse racing, and a role in setting up the Turkish Airlines Open. By George Dudley


ot since the halcyon days of the 1980s has the European Tour produced such a rush of major winners as it has in recent years. Five of golf â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s last 11 elite tournaments have been won by those on that circuit. During that earlier period of continental supremacy â&#x20AC;&#x201C; when players like Sir Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Seve Ballesteros were picking up green jackets at Augusta â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Andrew â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Chubbyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Chandler was, by his own admission, a journeyman golfer. In the European gameâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second coming, he has been at the forefront with his hugely successful agency International Sports Management (ISM). Founded in 1989 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with little more than a box of business cards, Chandlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s innate ability to secure travel deals, four golfers and a little-known South African sponsor â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ISM has progressed to become one of the major players in European golf and with interests far beyond. Chandlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largerthan-life persona has long been a major asset to the agency but his empathy, as a former player, is arguably his most valuable attribute. The Greater Manchester man says that â&#x20AC;&#x153;by smoothing out the administrative, PDUNHWLQJDQGORJLVWLFDOGLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOWLHVIRUD player, he can concentrate 100 per cent on his gameâ&#x20AC;?. The successful and prolonged JROĂ&#x20AC;QJFDUHHUVRI ,60VWDOZDUWVOLNHIRUPHU world number one Lee Westwood and the 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke certainly attest to this. Although ISM is rooted in the representation of golfers, the organisation has expanded to take on cricketers, show jumpers and snooker players. The cricket arm of the company, which is run under the careful eye of former England batsman Neil Fairbrother, boasts arguably the highest-calibre collection of modern

84 |

English stars in one agency: leading batsman Joe Root, bowling stalwart Stuart Broad and prodigious all-rounder Ben Stokes to name a few. Nevertheless, golf is Chandler and ,60¡VĂ DJVKLSGLYLVLRQDQGWKHKLJK point of his management career arrived in 2011 when three of his charges â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Clarke â&#x20AC;&#x201C; held the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship respectively. McIlroy has since moved to new representation and Clarkeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s form waned under the burden of being Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2016 Ryder Cup captain. However, Chandler has kept evolving and continued to do what he specialises in: nurturing young talent. With emerging players like Matt Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett beginning to blossom, the future continues to look bright for the Cheshire-based agent. It was in 2016, with Yorkshireman Willett, that Chandler returned to golf â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s WRSWDEOH7KH0DVWHUVWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWPDMRU of the season and to some the most important golf tournament of the year, seemed to be heading the way of the then world number one Jordan Spieth, who KHOGDĂ&#x20AC;YHVKRWOHDGJRLQJLQWRWKHEDFN nine of the last round. What followed has already passed into infamy, with the $PHULFDQĂ&#x20AC;QGLQJWKHPXOWLSOHZDWHUWUDSV through Augusta Nationalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s notorious â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Amen Cornerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, losing six shots in three KROHV:LOOHWWHPHUJHGIURPWKHĂ&#x20AC;HOGWR win the prestigious green jacket by three shots from the beleaguered Spieth and Chandler stablemate Westwood. Such blue-chip days are rare and often represent the denouement to a manager and playerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s collaboration: most of their work is behind the scenes and seldom seen or heard about.

&KDQGOHU¡VPXQLĂ&#x20AC;FHQWQDWXUHDQG memories of struggling on the European Tour have meant that he is always willing to assist the careers of promising golfers, offering advice or even reaching into his own pockets. It was in this spirit that he set up a standalone ISM brand, the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Class of 2016 and 2017â&#x20AC;&#x2122;, which instead of doling out one-off donations creates an infrastructure for a select group of young players that provides them with collective sponsorship deals and, in turn, allows them to thrive on the fairways. Chandler â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as he has for countless golfers before â&#x20AC;&#x201C; acts as their manager and mentor, and will almost certainly end up as a friend. How and why did you begin ISM?

I played on the European Tour from 1974 to â&#x20AC;&#x2122;85. I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dedicated enough, probably because I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a mentor to point me in the right direction, and I think that the money that it was possible to earn then was nothing like what is possible now. It was sort of like a holiday â&#x20AC;&#x201C; well, that was the mindset, almost. I played OK in â&#x20AC;&#x2122;85, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;86 and â&#x20AC;&#x2122;87. Those were my ďŹ nest years. From the late 70s I used to do a bit of travel organising for guys and the odd hotel deal for the people I played with: Michael King, Carl Mason and Nick Job. Looking back, that was the beginning of my job â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but at the time you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realise it. I survived on tour because I got sponsorship. I was doing corporate golf in the 70s; there werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a lot of people doing them at the time. The ďŹ rst corporate gig I did was for a company called SeaLand, who are a container company. I remember being nervous as hell about doing a clinic but the ďŹ rst shot I had to play was a nine iron and when it ďŹ&#x201A;ew into the air, the crowd gasped

Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler, managing director of sports management firm International Sports Management, has overseen the careers of many prominent golfers

and I thought, I’m alright here. You realise what level you are at thereafter. It is very noticeable when you have young pros turn up how nervous they are about hosting a clinic at the start. However, by the time you are a seasoned pro, like Darren Clarke or Lee Westwood, it becomes commonplace. Lee and Darren have their repartee, stories and quips, and it is much easier for them but you do see people go through it. I managed to earn enough sponsorship to keep playing while I wasn’t playing very well. I got to ’89 and I did a little bit of work for a management company who, in my opinion, had no idea: they were trying to sponsor players and then take a cut of their winnings. This meant that if you didn’t sponsor the right people you were never going to get anything back! It was really odd – and I told them that – but they wouldn’t have it.

It became obvious to me that their model wasn’t right and there was a way of doing this and I could do it. I had the opportunity of a nice sponsorship deal that came out of some corporate work in South Africa with a company called ICI – the boss was a guy from Manchester – and they also sponsored the South African golfer John Bland. They said to me, “I want you to replicate what you did in South Africa and do it in Britain.” I told them that I had finished playing but I would like to manage the programme, set it up, and I would find two players to sponsor. So I went down to the European Open in Walton Heath in 1989 with some business cards. I found four of my friends – Carl Mason, Derek Cooper, Denis Durnian and Phil Harrison – and told them that I was going to start a management company called International Sports Management. I knew they weren’t

managed by anyone – that was the easy part – and put ICI logos on two of them and off we go! We went into the new year and by the middle of the following year, the secretary and I were managing 15 different people. The company evolved in August 1990 when a friend of mine, a lawyer from Ireland called Dougie Heather, rung me up and told me of a young lad who wanted to turn pro. He said that it wasn’t a management situation but added, “If I put you in the situation, you might end up working together.” This player had already won all sorts of amateur tournaments and Dougie said, “If you come on Monday, he will have played the Irish Amateur, he will be leading the qualifiers and he will win the tournament and then you can speak to him.” Sure enough he did all of that, and we talked for an hour on whether he should go pro or not – the Walker Cup was in

SportsPro Magazine | 85


Chandler with English golfer Lee Westwood

Ireland the next year, which was an obvious pull for him. Eventually he turned to me and said, “I just want to play golf. Can you do everything else?” We agreed on this. He asked me about a contract and my thoughts were that Arnold Palmer and Mark McCormack never had a contract – they just shook hands and got on with it – so if it was good enough for them, it was for me. And, that golfer was, of course, Darren Clarke. We still don’t have a contract today. That is when it all started really. It was a practice run managing the guys that I had played with, but this was suddenly very different. Darren was the first golfer who came to me that I didn’t know and wanted representation. It gathered pace from there and suddenly we had Andrew Coltart, Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood. Lee didn’t play in a Walker Cup but he was connected to Darren and his dad got in touch with me the day after Darren won his first tournament. As we came through we became almost specialists at helping guys turn pro and achieve their potential quite quickly. That is the part of it that I really enjoy – I love helping young talent through. The other thing is that you become very big personal friends with them very quickly: Lee, Darren and Danny [Willett] are very close friends of mine. The difficult thing is that it became an awful lot about me because I have the name ‘Chubby’ and the big persona, basically. Somehow you have got to try and disperse some of the work because if you are not careful, everyone wants to talk to you all of the time. I have got really good salespeople now. Since that handshake in Ireland 27 years ago, how has the organisation developed from a one-man band to a multinational management firm?

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It grew steadily through the 90s. We saw a similar growth through the 2000s, when we added cricket and our first client was Andrew Flintoff. Then our golfers started winning majors – but then the trouble is that you become flavour of the month and it is, of course, very hard to turn people down. And we got too big; too many players. So in the last couple of years we made an effort to reduce in size: it is much easier to service properly with less people, which gives them more opportunities and less admin for us. We have got back into a situation where we have probably only got ourselves 18 clients, which is dead right. I have got a handle on everything. There is part of me that is a control freak but there is also part of me that just wants to know what is going on, to make sure everything is in order. That is where we are now and we have quite a lot of stuff to do with Turkish Airlines, too. The events side I like; we should be good at this because if you manage players you should be able to run events. For an old boy I am fairly forward-thinking. I am not too bad on social media and I understand it; I am always open to new ideas and aware that something is going to happen in the game that is going to radicalise it and no one has come up with it yet. How, in your opinion, has the sporting and commercial landscape changed – especially with the addition of social media and other platforms? Is it still a case of it being the same as it ever was, just slightly more digital?

I think that social media is an evil and an asset. It is an evil because it promotes intrusion into your life and it is an asset for the same reason: people are able to get closer to you. I find it absolutely fascinating the way that [Donald] Trump has used it – he has everyone panicking. No president had gone directly to the people like him. Sometimes, people don’t know what he is doing but I think he knows exactly what he is up to. Social media has a massive part to play in modern sport. I try to explain to every young player that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are seriously important: Twitter in particular because it is a bit more instant than everything else. It is like your own PR agency if you use it correctly and make it interesting. Some people

get it very right and some people get it wrong, and I can’t work out the fine line between the two but to have that tool is very important. Whereas the most important thing to a sponsor used to be the logo on the players sleeve, it isn’t now: it is about how good they are at social media and how many followers they have. That gets their brand out there far quicker and far better than something on your sleeve. The sleeve advertising doesn’t talk but social media does. It is really interesting how it has changed. We are trying to promote social media and we are trying to instil the importance into our young lads on our Class of 2016 and 2017. The young pros nowadays have to be good at it. What is the thinking behind the Class of 2016 and 2017?

It came about because I have the emotions of being someone that played the game and I understand how a youngster that has no funding needs funding. If they come to me – and I am so soft – it ends up costing me fortunes as a company. It is too hard to make the money and then to just give away 60 to 70 grand away to three young lads that have no sponsorship. I first had this idea 20 years ago that companies should sponsor a group of players rather than a player. Firstly, they have got more of a direct interest. Number two, they have a greater chance of a player doing well. The whole thing seems to work better. What I didn’t work out 20 years ago was that that should then be a standalone brand: the Class of 16/17 is its own brand within ISM. We managed to get 15 sponsors for the Class last year. About seven of those were paying and the other eight were services or barter. The lads had a watch, protein, biltong, a car – and then the money sponsors gave them some cash! You have got some sort of control of them, too, because it is your money – it’s not my money really but it is funnelled through us. Next year, we will be much stricter. The Class of 16 was the first year and we learned a lot from it, so with the Class of 17 the contract will be a lot tighter – we will put in certain stipulations and if they don’t do them, it will stop. In 2017, we will have two levels – a Challenge Tour level and a EuroPro Tour level. This will mean that we will have some young

“Arnold Palmer was amazing – an absolutely magnetic character.”

ones trying to get on to the Challenge Tour and also Challenge Tour guys trying to get on to the main tour. It looks like we will have three of each and we have probably just about got all of the funding in place but we haven’t quite decided on who the three and three are – two of the three junior kids will be two of the two junior kids from last year, probably Haydn McCullen and Billy Spooner. They are learning to cope corporately from a young age – 18 and 19 – which is great, and they are developing social media skills, PR and media. The next stage up, you end up with quite exciting talents to follow then. I like it – I am very hands-on with it, it is a nice little project. Darren will be getting involved this year with the young ones because we look like we are going to get involved with a sponsor that will involve Darren and the kids, which will mean that he will almost be like a paid mentor. Like I say, I am progressive for a 63-year-old: I like new ideas and getting away from the establishment. I am a massive cricket lover and I like all forms of the game: the first day of the Mumbai Test I sat down at 9.30am and I didn’t move until 4.30pm. But I am also getting up early every morning to watch the Big Bash [T20 tournament in Australia] and I love a 50-over match as well. As a sport it completely covers it for me, cricket. We have a very successful cricket arm – Neil Fairbrother is an unbelievable mentor. He is a mentor to six or seven of the England group. It is unbelievable how much players like Joe Root, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes look up to Neil, so much so that I would suggest that he is a bigger influence on them than any England coach. They always come out for dinner with us, even during the match. Arnold Palmer and Mark McCormack set the bar of what was possible for a modern sportsman’s off-course earnings. How much do you see them as inspirations and did you use any of McCormack’s commercial templates to aid you when you started out?

None, really. But it would have been unconsciously done – following that route – because Arnold Palmer was my hero. I had two heroes in golf: one was Arnold Palmer and the other was Seve [Ballesteros]. Arnold Palmer was amazing – an absolutely magnetic character. I had breakfast with him a couple of times and was in his company a bit at his tournament at Bay Hill. He was just a man’s man and wanted to get into the locker room

Northern Irish golfer and 2011 Open winner Darren Clarke was Chandler’s first ever client in 1989

and have a beer with the golfers at the end of play. Just an amazing guy. He was very clever because he never put much money in anything, whereas a lot of golfers get carried away and invest in various schemes. Arnold Palmer only ever invested in his own brand. In a way that is how we have tried to do it. When he died this year he was still just about the third-highest earning golfer at 80odd. His only big investment was in the Golf Channel but he made millions from it! I had lunch with McCormack a couple of times. A very interesting man – different but obviously a very sharp mind. I would say that the nearest thing to McCormack in England today would be Eddie and Barry Hearn at Matchroom. They have both done an unbelievable job, separately. Eddie has completely revitalised the British boxing scene and what Barry has done with the darts is staggering. They would be the closest to McCormack. I’m not, because they have got hold of sports as entities.

I think that we are very important to some people. When I played I wanted a manager because I wanted to say that I had a manager, and there are people nowadays who want a manager for the status as opposed to actually needing a manager. I am very careful when young people come to see me now because some of them just want cash or invitations but forget that it is actually them playing that makes them successful in the end. I never say no to a chat but when you realise that all they want is to see how much money we will give them I am less interested – I always go low to ensure that we are not the ones that discover! We are lucky enough that enough good players come to me and you can detect those, and work your way forward with them.

How important would you say that the role of the agent or manager is in modern sport?

Hopefully not twice! Number one, because of the way it all started with Darren and Lee, I took on too much responsibility. So I think that you disperse the load a little bit more because at one stage we were doing absolutely everything and you are not qualified to do it all. When you start out you want to keep a hold of everything but that is not a good idea, so we now have specialist people that look after the money like Arena. Delegate that and focus on the bits that you are really good at. What I am good are deals, career and schedule. Focus more about the player’s career than anything.

I’d like to think that I am not an agent; I’d like to think that we are a management company. The difference being that a manager manages and mentors, whereas an agent just gets them commercial deals. Sure we get deals but we do so much more. You would never call Neil Fairbrother an agent: he wouldn’t know how to do a commercial deal but the reason that we have all of our cricketers is because of him. He mentors them.

You often talk about the fact that you have made ‘all of the mistakes possible – twice’ but always learned from them. What are the mistakes that you feel that have shaped you for the better over your career?

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the horses, going racing is my hobby and I have made an effort to go as much as I can over the last year. You are heavily involved in the running of the Turkish Airlines Open in Belek. How did that come about and what goes into running it?

England cricket stars Joe Root (left) and Ben Stokes are both part of Chandler’s growing cricketing arm

You were a former European Tour golfer and you also use a former player in Neil Fairbrother on the cricketing side. Do you feel that former sportsmen are able to offer a better perspective to their stars than other agents?

You can look it in different ways. An accountant has the right experience for some parts of the job, the lawyer has the right experience for some parts of the job, the golfer or the cricketer has the right experience for parts some of the job. My guess is that the right experience for the job comes from the past player more than the other two. If you go to any accountant they will be able to do a job on the numbers of anyone but you go to any person managing somebody and they don’t know anything about what their client is doing, they are hopeless. Do you approach each sport differently or do you have a tried and tested formula, especially on the sponsorship front?

No. I have better sponsorship salespeople now than I have ever had. We try to be as creative as possible when we are doing a sponsorship presentation. We are doing alright at the moment and we are making good inroads in a lot of places with a lot of bigger brands. So we don’t have a template because some brands want visibility, some want social media, some want experiential stuff, some want just to come to a golf course and have a pro come and have a Q and A with them. You try and work out what everybody wants and then you try and be creative within that framework. The great thing about Darren is that he is an unbelievable corporate animal. Brilliant. As soon as you put him in a corporate

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situation a little red light goes on and off he goes – doesn’t matter whether he has had a good day or a bad day, he knows his job and does it really well. Because of that skill and the profile that he got following the Ryder Cup, he is still in demand – his deals are still running and new ones are coming along. He is actually going to the 2017 Masters on a corporate basis and not playing the tournament – he has three or four gigs and will make a nice amount for the week. You have a wide range of stars in various sports. How do you keep the existing clients happy and attract new ones in?

You don’t all the time. Some leave and others stay. You get a gut feel that you tend to get right most of the time. Sometimes I get it wrong – I got one wrong this year, in fact – and at the time you feel it but there is nothing you can do about it. But over 25 years I haven’t got it wrong too often. You just know where you should be and you know how much of an arm to put around people and how much of a kick up the arse you need to give. Hopefully you get it right most of the time. Looking back on my time, I would say that I got it right more than I got it wrong. You represent jockey Harry Bentley, and you and Lee Westwood own horses together. What are your plans in horse racing?

It is just ownership. We are proper mug owners. We know enough and we follow it enough but we never meddle in the trainers’ work. We have been very lucky in that we have had 26 winners in 2016. Along with owning

We run it with the Turkish Golf Federation, which is fairly small because of the low participation in the country. It started with a phone call from David Clare who worked over in Turkey and said that they want to have a tournament. My first question was, “What is the budget?” And he said that they had €10 million to €12 million. I went over to Turkey two days later. They had already rung the European Tour and the tour had presumed that they had a €1 million tournament and were going to give them the middle of March and no real date. I went over and they said that they wanted to put golf tourism on the map and they had to have Tiger Woods play they said, “If Tiger doesn’t play we won’t know anyone.” We didn’t manage to do a conventional tournament – I had the budget but no date. I managed to jam the tournament into the middle of both the PGA Tour and European Tour schedules but I got eight of the top 11 to play. We actually ran it, unusually, on a Tuesday to Friday. We got it done and had Rory there and Tiger there. The next year we were at the beck and call of Tiger’s schedule, so we worked out when he could play. At the same time the European Tour wanted to set up a thing called the Final Series and Turkey’s money was big enough for that and the date worked such that Tiger could play, too. So we stuck it in there and that is when it became a 78-man field. You have shared many picture perfect moments with your clients. What is your fondest memory of your management career?

Darren winning The Open at St George’s in 2011 probably just edges Lee getting to number one in the world. Both occasions are vivid in my memory. Lee got to world number one on his birthday, winning a tournament in Indonesia. However, Darren, at 42, when we all thought he might have just missed his chance of a major win, was unbelievable: he completely out-golfed the field on a Portrush type of weekend. Simply amazing.


+44 (0) 20 7549 3250






BASES OVERSEAS After an unforgettable, historic year on the ďŹ eld in 2016, the mood at Major League Baseball is buoyant. For Chris Park, senior vice president of growth, strategy and international, the challenge now is to make Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s revitalised pastime a global force. By Michael Long


ulti-billion dollar sports league, entertainment and media business, technology company, even a sporting diplomat â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Major League Baseball (MLB), says Chris Park, is no longer merely Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national pastime. It is, he says, a growing international business in â&#x20AC;&#x153;a deeply global gameâ&#x20AC;?, one that is taking meaningful strides to embed itself into the lives and cultures of local sports fans across the globe. As senior vice president of growth, strategy and international at Major League Baseball (MLB), Park oversees the leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s global growth efforts and all aspects of its international business initiatives. His

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remit covers everything from global events and television to sponsorship, licensing and new market development, while he also serves as president of the World Baseball Classic, the quadrennial international tournament jointly operated by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). Park, who re-joined MLB in February 2015 after a stint with Facebook, has been tasked by commissioner Rob Manfred with localising MLB business activities in key markets outside of the US. In 2016, he oversaw the opening RI 0/%¡VQHZRIĂ&#x20AC;FHLQ0H[LFR &LW\²LWVĂ&#x20AC;UVWEXVLQHVVRXWSRVW in Latin America â&#x20AC;&#x201C; spearheaded the organisation of the leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Chicago Cubs players celebrate their triumph in the 2016 World Series

KLVWRULFH[KLELWLRQJDPHLQ&XED last spring, and helped launch its Ă&#x20AC;UVWSRSXSUHWDLOLQVWDOODWLRQLQ London. Beyond that, he has also RUFKHVWUDWHGWKHH[SDQVLRQRI  the World Baseball Classic whilst helping to negotiate major new media rights partnerships with the likes of LeSports in China, Televisa LQ0H[LFR0%&6SRUWVLQ6RXWK Korea, and Dentsu in Japan. Together, these new strategic investments and partnerships will see MLB International post its highest ever revenue this year, further bolstering the league after a season which culminated in WKH&KLFDJR&XEV¡KLVWRULFĂ&#x20AC;UVW championship in 108 years, one of the highest-rated World Series in

history, and, more recently, a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will ensure labour peace LQ0/%H[WHQGVWRPRUHWKDQD quarter of a century. Following the conclusion of Novemberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s World Series, and ahead of the fourth edition of the World Baseball Classic in March, SportsPro stole half an hour with Park to discuss the commercial health of baseball worldwide, MLBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s approach WRLQWHUQDWLRQDOH[SDQVLRQLWVQHZ overseas media partnerships, and much more besides. Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś the commercial health of the game

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think our game has never HQMR\HGEURDGHUH[SRVXUHDQG distribution around the world, and under the commissionerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leadership over the last two years weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been grateful to refocus a number of our promotional and commercial efforts to revitalise our brand or, in some cases, launch our brand in the most critical markets, both for the baseball community and MLBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s broader ambition. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is a good time, overall. :H¡UHH[FLWHGDERXWWKHIRXQGDWLRQ weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been able to build over the last couple of years in particular, EXW,WKLQNRXURQĂ&#x20AC;HOGSURGXFW² as you saw [in November] during the play-offs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is really compelling. :H¡UHH[FLWHGWREHDEOHWRFRQWLQXH WRĂ&#x20AC;QGQHZZD\VWRVKRZFDVHLW outside of the United States.â&#x20AC;? Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś initiating Commissioner Manfredâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;strategic resetâ&#x20AC;?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Historically, Major League Baseball is â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and probably always will be â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a deeply global game. I think among the American sports leagues we probably have the KLJKHVWUHSUHVHQWDWLRQRQĂ&#x20AC;HOG of international players, at least players who are not born in the United States or Canada. So it goes without saying that communities, players and families outside of the United States have always been an important part of the game. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Commissioner Manfredâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

particular interest in this area of both our game and commercial development, though, is to try to be strategic and focus on long-term opportunities that can not only UHWXUQEHQHĂ&#x20AC;WVWRRXUJDPHEXWDOVR UHGHĂ&#x20AC;QHDQGHQULFKWKHFRUHLGHQWLW\ of our brand, the identity of our clubs, and ultimately what role we play in culture, broadly speaking. ´7KHFUX[RI RXUHIIRUWVDURXQG the world perhaps, most recently, has been to refocus on thinking of the internationalisation of our game through globalisation. That is to say, go community by community, market by market, opportunity by opportunity, and receive guidance from our partners and fans around the world about how we can be the best possible partner and brand and entertainment source for them, and then adapt that to our plans accordingly. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Major League Baseball has grown, even in the United States, to become so many different things through the years. We are, of course, colloquially the national pastime, but MLB has since grown to not only be a major entertainment and media company, but also a technology company, even in some cases a sports diplomat. So we want to do justice to all the various roles that we can play and take the lead in the communities weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to serve in GHĂ&#x20AC;QLQJZKDWH[DFWO\ZHZLOOEULQJÂľ Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś that market-by-market approach

´2XURYHUDOOUHPLWLQH[HFXWLRQLV going to look different depending on where we are and who weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to serve, but the strategic aims are going to be the same, which is we want to embed ourselves in the communities that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to serve, obviously working with the EHVWSDUWQHUVZHFDQĂ&#x20AC;QGEXWE\ making connections that are really authentic with our fans. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In some cases that will mean we bring our own resources to the WDEOHDQGZHEULQJDQH[SHULHQFH that looks a lot like, say, fans in .DQVDV&LW\H[SHULHQFHZKHQWKH\ interact with our game. But in other

Chris Park, senior vice president of growth, strategy and international at Major League Baseball

cases it will look very different, and we may look more like other global brands or other localised sports and entertainment brands.â&#x20AC;? Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś taking MLB content to Chinese audiences

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our partnership with LeSports in China is a good illustration, philosophically, of what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying WRGR7KHVHDVRQZDVRXUĂ&#x20AC;UVW streaming games on the LeSports platform in China. It was effectively WKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWHYHUPDVVPHGLDSDUWQHUVKLS weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done for regular season and play-off games. All told, we streamed roughly 130 games from opening day to the end of the World Series. We literally grew a new audience of about 30 million folks or so. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think it was important for us to reach a new audience and connect with Chinese fans, but also to do so by the most compelling SUHVHQWDWLRQSRVVLEOH:H¡UHH[FLWHG about our partnership with LeSports because we really are building the Ă&#x20AC;UVWJHQHUDWLRQQRWRQO\RI &KLQHVH fans and the audience but also of Mandarin-language Chinese broadcast and media production. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen a really vibrant fan community grow, at least with the

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we hope, about focusing the league resources in places where we think we can make the biggest and most meaningful impact. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As we do so across the world, we may have certain prioritised areas or markets which may be priorities for slightly different reasons. But that is, broadly speaking, the process that we have not only paid a lot of attention to recently as weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve taken on the remit, but will continue to do so as we evaluate how well weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing, how well weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not doing, and where else weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to look to be more aggressive.â&#x20AC;? Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś the rise of OTT and MLBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s digital efforts

game audiences that we have there. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been very impressed by the size of the community that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re able to track there.â&#x20AC;? Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś maintaining a local presence

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Conceptually, we think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s critical â&#x20AC;&#x201C; even mission-critical, if I can use an REQR[LRXVSLHFHRI OLQJR²IRURXU business to be local. We believe in having real, in-person relationships not only with our partners but also with our fans. We think it creates an indispensable feedback loop to New York and the rest of the network of MLB stakeholders to be on the JURXQGDQGWROLYHWKHH[SHULHQFHRI  our game wherever we may be. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re obviously delighted to KDYHRIĂ&#x20AC;FHVRXWVLGHRI WKH86WKDW are very active and very vocal. This LVIRULQVWDQFHWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVW\HDUWKDW ZHODXQFKHGDEXVLQHVVRIĂ&#x20AC;FHLQ 0H[LFR&LW\,W¡VQRWRQO\RXUĂ&#x20AC;UVW RIĂ&#x20AC;FHLQ0H[LFREXWDOVRRXUĂ&#x20AC;UVW LQ/DWLQ$PHULFDDQGZH¡UHH[FLWHG to be able to build on that team in years to come. ´:H¡UHKDSS\ZLWKWKHRIĂ&#x20AC;FHVZH KDYH:H¡GORYHWRKDYHRIĂ&#x20AC;FHVDQG people literally everywhere around the world; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sure that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll never be able to do that for reasons that

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probably apply to every entity out WKHUH%XWZH¡UHH[FLWHGDERXWWKH IRXQGDWLRQRI WKHRIĂ&#x20AC;FHVZHKDYH so far, have built and are planning to build on in the near future.â&#x20AC;? Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś doing due diligence before entering new markets

´7KHDQDO\VLVZHGRRQWKDWĂ&#x20AC;UVW of all, is ongoing and, second of all, cross-disciplinary. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s harking back to some of the issues we were talking about before. Because both MLB as an enterprise and MLB as a game and a cultural institution now has come to mean so many different things, when we are evaluating PDUNHWVZHDUHHYDOXDWLQJWKHĂ&#x20AC;W of current and potential of our activities with the given community or the potential fans and partners weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to serve. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Obviously, whether weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re thinking about where to open an RIĂ&#x20AC;FHRUZKHUHWRSULRULWLVHRXU resources or other attentions, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s DQLQFUHDVLQJO\GLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOWGHFLVLRQ because, understandably and rightly, we see opportunity everywhere. But in the ultimate judgement we do our best to evaluate what we think is possible across the many hats that MLB can wear, and then we just make our best judgements,

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has initiated a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;strategic resetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of the leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s overall business since taking oďŹ&#x192;ce in January 2015

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think our focus, regardless of what segment of the business weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re talking about, is to make the most compelling and authentic connections with the fans we have. In that sense, our mission is to make that happen and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re probably at a point in history where there are great opportunities to GRWKDWE\ZD\RI WKHH[SORGLQJ universe and landscape of platforms across digital media. ´:HFRQWLQXHWRĂ&#x20AC;QGQHZ opportunities to showcase baseball content in really interesting ways across traditional and non-traditional media. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a drop in the bucket for what MLB, broadly speaking, is doing globally. BAM [MLB Advanced Media], of course, is doing amazing things in different parts of the media supply chain, both with baseball and other content. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been that way for a long time., for instance, has been available globally for quite some time and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s available to our fans even as we are growing other ways for fans to interact with our game and our broadcast in different languages.â&#x20AC;? Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś driving international interest through the World Baseball Classic

´:H¡UHH[FLWHGQRWRQO\EHFDXVH itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the fourth edition of the tournament of all time and we




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MLB is home to a growing number of overseas-born superstars like Detroit Tigersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Venezuelan ďŹ rst baseman Miguel Cabrera

Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś MLBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s retail business

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our retail business is great â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s YHU\KHDOWK\:H¡YHHQMR\HGDORWRI  RSSRUWXQLWLHVDQGDORWRI VXFFHVVHV WKLV\HDU$VZHDUHFRQWLQXLQJWR SXVKWKHHQYHORSHFUHDWLYHO\ERWK with that outlet and a few other H[DPSOHVZH¡UHVHHLQJUHDOO\DOOWLPH LQWHUHVWLQRXUDSSHDODURXQGWKH world, including, for instance, in Canada, where weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re seeing a national wave of interest and new allegiance as the Blue Jays have achieved success LQWKHODVWIHZVHDVRQVÂľ Park onâ&#x20AC;Ś standing out from the crowd

â&#x20AC;&#x153;We try to follow the news and IROORZZKDWERWKRXUFRPSHWLWRUV DQGRWKHUFRROHQWHUWDLQPHQW brands are doing around the ZRUOG,GRWKLQNLWLQIRUPVZKDW ZHWKLQNDQGZKDWZHGR,QD lot of cases, though, because of what we started with, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t XOWLPDWHO\GHWHUPLQHWKHGHFLVLRQV


JAPAN MARKET VISIT 6 - 10 March 2017 ‰ŅĩƼŅ¼„±ŞŞŅųŅØI±Ş±Ĺ MEI are visiting Tokyo & Rugby World Cup host city, Sapporo with a delegation of international companies to meet local companies, sponsors, :ŅƴåųĹĵåĹƋŅþÏĜĬ±Ÿ±ĹÚUåƼ„Ƌ±ĩåĘŅĬÚåųŸĜĹƋĘå Rugby World Cup 2019 and Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics & Paralympics. +44 (0)207 709 2350 12 Tokenhouse Yard EC2R 7AS

ABOUT MAJOR EVENTS INTERNATIONAL Major Events International (MEI) delivers market penetration and business support services to companies aspiring to be more competitive in the global major sports events market. åĹåĀƋŸĜĹÏĬƚÚå× • Market visits to meet key stakeholders • Meet the buyer roundtables and webinars • Strategy workshops and enhanced market ŞųŅĀĬå • Speaking opportunities and expo discounts 2017 trade visits will include Japan (see above), Budapest, Dubai, Australia & China

The programme is split into two parts: Tokyo - 7th March where we will be hosting ÆųĜåĀĹčŸ±ĹÚƖÏŅĬĬ±ÆŅų±ƋĜŅĹüŅųŅŞŞŅųƋƚĹĜƋĜåŸ in both major sporting events. Sapporo 9-10 March will include a city tour and joining the Japanese Sport Tourism Alliance Convention.

MAJOR EVENTS SUMMIT 12 - 13 July 2017 Former Press and Broadcast Centre (Plexal), Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Major Events International will be hosting its 3rd Major Events Summit bringing together experts from current and future organising committees, sports bodies, venue & key commercial suppliers involved in major sports events. a±ģŅųƋĘåĵåŸĜĹÏĬƚÚå×8±Ĺ)Ĺč±čåĵåĹƋØ kƴåųĬ±Ƽ؉åÏĘĹŅĬŅčƼ±ĹÚ„±üåƋƼ¼„åÏƚųĜƋƼţ eĘĜčĘĬƼĜĹƋåų±ÏƋĜƴåŞååųƋŅŞååųŅŞŞŅųƋƚĹĜƋƼ ƋŅčåƋƼŅƚÆåƋƋåųÏŅĹĹåÏƋåÚ±ĹÚĩĹŅƵĹĜĹƋĘå čĬŅƱĬŸŞŅųƋŸĵ±ųĩåƋţ #MEISummit

Smart data

Smart data Sport creates countless points of contact between committed communities of fans and the teams, competitions and events they care about most. Now, with technology creating new means of interaction, and development in analytics and algorithms delivering advances in understanding huge sources of information, it is becoming possible to build up more powerful and meaningful pictures of individual supporters â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and meet them on their own terms.

About SportsPro SmartSeries SmartSeries is the new venture from SportsPro looking at where the industry is going next. It explores topics like near-future technology, investment, innovation and emerging best practice DFURVVDUDQJHRIĆŽHOGVEULQJLQJLQRSLQLRQIURPWKRVHRQWKHFXWWLQJHGJHDQGĆŽQGLQJRXWKRZWKH sports business can prepare for the change that is coming tomorrow.

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Picture by: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

SportsPro Magazine | 97

Smart data

Data and the life of the fan The notion that big data can enable sports organisations to enhance their understanding of fan behaviour both within and outside matchday venues is QRWKLQJQHZZLWKSURĆŽOLQJ&50 and targeted communications common practice. But without thorough analysis and contextualisation, making sense of the vast wealth of data currently available remains a challenge for every sports organisation. &XVWRPHUJHQHUDWHGGDWDLV said to be the most collected type of external data, and it comes through myriad channels, from ticket purchases and marketing campaign analysis to social media. In a bid to glean valuable insights from this evergrowing source of information, organisations across the sporting world have taken to hiring analytics experts and data scientists capable of converting big data into smart data. Fan analytics is an impending growth area. Numerous agencies have long operated LQWKLVĆŽHOGEXWUHFHQW\HDUV have seen a proliferation in VSHFLDOLVWRĆŹHULQJV7ZRVXFK H[DPSOHVDUH,%0)DQ,QVLJKWD cloud-based analytics solution employed by the likes of the Ottawa Senators ice hockey team, and new ventures such as Kraft Analytics Group .$*5 DGDWDPDQDJHPHQW advanced analytics and strategic marketing unit established by

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Kraft Sports Group, owner of the New England Patriots National )RRWEDOO/HDJXH 1)/ WHDPDQG their Gillette Stadium home. One common way in which organisations use big data to understand fan behaviour and drive revenue is through dynamic ticket pricing. The Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball $VVRFLDWLRQ 1%$ IRUH[DPSOH ZHUHRQHRIWKHĆŽUVWSURIHVVLRQDO sports teams to start using data to set ticket prices, responding to demand and activity in the secondary market. With the help of a 6,000-square foot data centre and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;smart turnstilesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; at their KLWHFK*ROGHQ&HQWHUWKH Kings are also able to track consumer behaviour and log individual preferences from the moment a fan enters the DUHQD&RPELQHGZLWKDGGLWLRQDO data generated through social media and the teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s app, this information enables them to RĆŹHUSHUVRQDOLVHGJDPHGD\ H[SHULHQFHVVSHFLDORĆŹHUVDQGD more proactive customer service. From there, advanced backend solutions like predictive analytics and advanced algorithms now RĆŹHUDGHHSHUXQGHUVWDQGLQJ of who is actually attending an event, not just who purchased the ticket. While basic transaction data remains an important means of understanding a customer base, companies like Umbel, an Austin, Texas-based data company, strive to go beyond

point-of-sale and concession data to capture in-venue information through locationbased mobile marketing, gating Wi-Fi, beacons, geomapping and geofencing. Such proximity technologies have been adopted by the majority of major league facilities in the US, with 93 per FHQWRI0DMRU/HDJXH%DVHEDOO 0/% EDOOSDUNVUHSRUWHGWREH employing beacons as of last summer. A Proxbook report released last year estimated there to be around 8.2 million proximity sensors currently deployed globally, and projected that by 2020, 400 million beacons will be in use worldwide. Using proximity technologies to capture fan data has inherent FRPPHUFLDOEHQHĆŽWVHQDEOLQJ YHQXHRSHUDWRUVWRRĆŹHU stadium-only promotions and providing sponsorship teams with more in-depth insights to

present to potential partners. When combined with other data points, they can also provide further understanding of FRQVXPHUEUDQGDĆąQLW\6RFLDO media analytics tools like Ampsy, for example, enable brands, agencies, venues and teams to monitor sentiment and aggregate FRQWHQWDURXQGVSHFLĆŽFHYHQWV Looking ahead, many experts LQWKHĆŽHOGIRUHVHHUDSLG advancements in data gathering and analysis methods. Some envisage a future in which consumer data is captured not through smartphones, but through tiny microchips embedded under the skin. It could be that such a chip would serve multiple functions on matchdays, providing access into the venue, acting as a contactless payment device, and HYHQDOHUWLQJQHDUE\ĆŽUVWDLGHUV of an impending illness.


After years of promise, voicerecognition technology has made VLJQLĆŽFDQWVWULGHVIRUZDUGDQG 2016 will go down as something of a breakthrough year for virtual personal assistants, or VPAs. Smartphone-based platforms like $SSOHoV6LUL0LFURVRIWoV&RUWDQD and Google Now had been the most prominent examples but it is Amazonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Echo, a voicecontrolled, hands-free speaker, that has come to set the industry standard in terms of functionality. Echo is powered by Alexa, an advanced cloud-based voice service that can not only perform simple tasks and provide real-time information across compatible devices, but also adapt to speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. New capabilities are being developed all the WLPHDQGDWWKLV\HDUoV&(6 tech trade show in Las Vegas, Alexa appeared in all manner of connected devices, from in-car entertainment systems to lamps and laundry machines. Now, other tech companies are following Amazonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lead. Late last year, Google parent Alphabet Inc released Google Home, an internet-connected speaker to rival Echo, while Apple is said to be working on its own Siri-powered home assistant that can control domestic appliances, locks, lights and curtains through voice activation. As VPAs become more widely accepted as part of everyday life,

it stands to reason that sporting entities will increasingly look to integrate themselves into what could be the fanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most important digital relationship in the future. Experts at Gartner Inc, a leading information technology research and advisory company, predict that by 2019, 20 per cent of all smartphone interactions will take SODFHYLD93$VZKLOHWKHĆŽUPDOVR foresees a time when VPAs can perform more complex tasks â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;such as completing a transaction based on past, present and SUHGLFWHGFRQWH[Wo0RUH generally, though, the fact that the WHFKĆŽUPVEHKLQGWKHRQJRLQJ VPA arms race are increasingly seeing sport as an ideal platform on which to showcase their products and services suggests LWZRQoWEHORQJEHIRUHWKH\ĆŽQG sporting applications for their nascent technologies. To some extent, this is already WKHFDVH0LFURVRIWoV&RUWDQD touted as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most personal smartphone assistantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, began predicting the outright winner of every NFL game last season and correctly picked the outcome of an impressive 64 per cent of games over the course of the regular season. Another company investing in smart assistants is Facebook, ZKRVHIRXQGHU0DUN=XFNHUEHUJ spent much of 2016 developing -DUYLVDQDUWLĆŽFLDOO\LQWHOOLJHQW voice-controlled assistant for his home in San Francisco. Though it has the ability to perform

David Parry/PA Wire/PA Images

Virtual Personal Assistants


typical functions like playing music and controlling lights, =XFNHUEHUJFODLPVWKDW-DUYLVLV GLĆŹHUHQWWRRWKHU93$VRQWKH market because it does not rely on a â&#x20AC;&#x153;do as I say modelâ&#x20AC;?. Instead, he describes the software as â&#x20AC;&#x153;simple AIâ&#x20AC;? that can learn its userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs through â&#x20AC;&#x153;natural language processing, speech recognition, face recognition, and reinforcement learningâ&#x20AC;?.

Technological advances and the continued popularisation of VPAs are expected to coincide with accelerations in conversational commerce, an emerging area of technology that combines AI with messaging or other natural-language interfaces so that users can interact with businesses and brands through chat bots.

SportsPro Magazine | 99

Smart data

Bots and automated marketing


Since smartphones and personal mobile devices became commonplace, more and more companies have converted to the idea of using the data those products can record to tailor marketing to individuals and groups of users. Social media has provided one way of measuring and connecting with audiences. The proliferation of smartphone apps has also been a popular means of collecting that data by encouraging direct engagement, before allowing for direct communication. &RQVXPHUEHKDYLRXUKRZHYHU is changing. A report from media and technology consultancy Activate has found that a quarter of apps are used just once after download. But one category of apps that is revisited extensively by users is the instant messaging

the process of buying tickets or merchandise. Access to photo messaging platforms is not currently supported on iOS and Android, but bot-powered apps can communicate through the OLNHVRI)DFHERRN0HVVHQJHU Slack, Skype and Telegram. GameOn is a developer which has already created partnerships with the likes of Sports Illustrated, for a bot-powered NFL app, and Sky Sports in the UK, for an app modelled on Soccer Saturday SUHVHQWHU-HĆŹ6WHOOLQJ%RWK deliver information like scores and team news, and allow for integration of photos, videos and live statistics. Two things could come to set bots apart as a marketing tool. 7KHĆŽUVWLVSHUVRQDOLW\ERWVFDQ conceivably be programmed to take on the persona of a sports

service. According to The Economist, 2.5 billion people worldwide have downloaded the OLNHVRI)DFHERRN0HVVHQJHU the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, DQG:H&KDW*HWWLQJDFFHVVWR consumers on those platforms is the next step for brands, and tech giants like Facebook DQG0LFURVRIWKDYHFUHDWHG development tools that will allow them to do so. 0HVVDJLQJERWVRUFKDW ERWVDUHDUWLĆŽFLDOO\LQWHOOLJHQW programmes that can interact directly with users â&#x20AC;&#x201C; synthesising a conversation. They can be developed to impart a selected range of information, making them ideal for customer service operations, while other short-term possibilities include assistance with product selections â&#x20AC;&#x201C; guiding fans through

VWDURUWHDPHĆŹHFWLYHO\JLYLQJ a more accessible version of the social media experience. Bots can also learn, not only becoming more natural in conversation but also getting a better understanding through time of what each individual user wants. With a higher number of interactions than via a conventional app interface, that picture also builds up more quickly. Though Silicon Valley continues to focus on developing this kind RIWHFKQRORJ\LWLVLQ&KLQDZKHUH messaging platforms are wellestablished, that conversational commerce is currently at its most mature. According to Gartner, 7HQFHQWoV:H&KDWWKHSRSXODU social media platform that has partnerships with many prominent VSRUWVSURSHUWLHVRĆŹHUVLWV 440 million users â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;an all-in-one approach, letting them pay their bills, hail cabs and order products with a textâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. There is still some way for the technology to go to reach LWVIXOOSRWHQWLDO/DVW0DUFK 0LFURVRIWoVn7D\oSURMHFWsDERW designed to mimic the behaviour of a millennial social media user â&#x20AC;&#x201C; had to be pulled from a public trial after just a few days when it EHJDQUHĆ°HFWLQJ7ZLWWHUDWLWVYHU\ very darkest. Already, however, the potential for bots to enter the marketing mix is clear.

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Smart wearables and very personal data 0DLQVWUHDPFRQVXPHUVLQ developed markets are getting more used to the idea of wearable technology â&#x20AC;&#x201C; even if for many it has not yet crossed the divide, as mobile products like smartphones have, from impressive to indispensable. Sales of smartwatches have stubbornly refused to take off, slowing year-on-year in 2016, and that seems at least in part because of a gap between concept and technology â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that products like the Apple Watch require an accompanying smartphone to do most of the heavy lifting means that it can be difficult to make an emphatic case for purchase. There is one sector in which wearables are convincing EX\HUVKHDOWKDQGILWQHVV The early leader in the smartwatch sector, Apple, has tailored its second generation line to more appealing to WKHĆŽWQHVVXVHULQWURGXFLQJ

ZDWHUSURRĆŽQJDQGLQGHSHQGHQW GPS. Fitbit, meanwhile, is eating up other competitors in the space, buying Pebble in 2016. Fitness wearables are already showing potential as a means of creating a deep and active form of engagement between consumers and brands. In November, sports videogame publisher 2K announced a so far unique partnership with Fitbit for its new NBA 2K17 basketball title. Fitbit users who have created a personal avatar through NBA .oV0\3OD\HUIHDWXUHJHWD temporary in-game stats boost for their player each time they complete 10,000 steps in a day. The integration is made possible by the Works With Fitbit software platform, which is already facilitating relationships between the wearables and a variety of apps. 0DQ\RIWKHVHKDYHH[SOLFLWO\ health-based purposes, related to water and calorie

consumption, while others provide a means of accessing or sharing performance data on other devices. But the concept of developing goal-based promotions is one that could be applied in a range of contexts for sports teams, sponsors and governing bodies. Simple promotions could involve encouraging fans to walk to games, rather than taking cars or public transport, in return for matchday rewards and discounts. A more involved approach, bringing in wider sets of health data, might better suit bodies seeking to encourage grassroots participation, particularly among younger participants who want to measure their performance against their heroes. If treated sensitively, secured legitimately, and properly anonymised, data relating to health could conceivably be used to create a rich and sophisticated understanding of the physical state of amateur players, which could inform policy or academic research. Seattle-based startup Arrivale is among the companies attempting to take a more holistic approach to personal physical data analysis, with a process that combines saliva collection and a gut microbiome check with Fitbit monitoring.

The slow growth of the wearables sales could prove to be a way of trialling these kinds of initiatives before the market reaches maturity. In elite sport, wearable technology is already very much on the march. GPSenabled units and heart-rate monitors been a common sight on training grounds for many years, helping to track performance and prevent injury. Products from FRPSDQLHVOLNH&DWDSXOW6SRUWV are now capable of measuring the impact of collisions â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which could be critical in understanding the risks of concussion. &RQGXFWLYHHWH[WLOHVRU smart fabrics, could massively expand the potential of wearable devices. For now, a team in Pakistan has found a way of embedding tracking sensors into DĆŽWWHGVOHHYHLQDELGWRUHVROYH one of cricketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thorniest issues. &ULF)OH[PHDVXUHVWKHH[WHQWWR which a bowlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arm straightens in his or her action. It relays the results to a smartphone app, which then calculates whether the straightening exceeds the legally permitted 15 degrees. The idea is that umpires all the way down to amateur level could soon have access to tools to prevent â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;throwingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, but clothing capable of measuring biomechanical activity would have considerable potential in coaching.

SportsPro Magazine | 101


Automatic for the people Live content creation can create a wealth of opportunities but doing it eďŹ&#x20AC;ectively can be beyond the reach of some sporting bodies, and eat into the budgets of bigger organisations. That could all be set to change, however, with the launch of a new product from Mediapro that oďŹ&#x20AC;ers an automated approach to high-deďŹ nition broadcasting and recording. By Nicholas Brookes


utomaticTV is a radical new solution for the sport industry. Developed by Barcelona-based 0HGLDSURLWRIIHUVDKLJKGHĂ&#x20AC;QLWLRQ multi-camera system that enables sports to be recorded without human operators. By eliminating the recording processâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reliance on human control, AutomaticTV dramatically reduces the costs DVVRFLDWHGZLWKĂ&#x20AC;OPLQJOLYHVSRUW To run AutomaticTV, customers simply require a local server and cameras. Installing the system is both cheap and easy, with very few running costs once the cameras are in place. The brains behind AutomaticTV have developed JXLGLQJSULQFLSOHVIRUVSHFLĂ&#x20AC;F sports, enabling the cameras

to switch between themselves automatically, using pan, tilt and zoom to provide a professional, KLJKGHĂ&#x20AC;QLWLRQUHFRUGLQJ Business unit manager Mauro Margenat recalls that while the dawn of the internet created new methods of distributing video content, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the production means remained the sameâ&#x20AC;?. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You still needed people,â&#x20AC;? he adds, â&#x20AC;&#x153;you still needed outside broadcasting vans, you still needed complex structures to produce the content. The costs of those traditional production means were very high.â&#x20AC;? Such high production costs provided a barrier for all except the wealthiest clubs and organisations. Margenat explains that AutomaticTV constructed â&#x20AC;&#x153;a

Mediaproâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sports production business pyramid

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pyramid of the sports production business, with one side representing entertainment and the other technical productionâ&#x20AC;?. It quickly became apparent that â&#x20AC;&#x153;the only area being covered was top entertainment, top sportâ&#x20AC;?. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The rest,â&#x20AC;? Margenat continues, â&#x20AC;&#x153;was uncovered. We saw a big blue ocean there. So we started developing a system back in 2013 that automated the production of sport. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how we started the product. To cover this blue ocean of possibilities and to match the needs for the distribution of content.â&#x20AC;? Having begun commercial distribution last year, AutomaticTV has already signed agreements in 18 countries, with local distributors installing the system into professional and amateur clubs of various sports including soccer, basketball and handball. While the systemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most obvious use is broadcasting, AutomaticTV can have a similar impact on technical analysis. Clubs can now record and analyse their training sessions at very little cost, without production tools or camera operators. AutomaticTV has already reached agreements with top European soccer sides FC Porto, Valencia and FC KĂśln, and has proved extremely popular with local giants FC Barcelona, too. They have already installed 15 units and record thousands of

hours of footage per year. That is not to suggest that the broadcast element has taken a EDFNVHDW0DUJHQDWUHĂ HFWVWKDW OHVVDIĂ XHQWSURIHVVLRQDOFOXEV are beginning to understand the possibilities that recording live video provides. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s progress,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The market is starting to wake up and say, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;We need to produce this content and we need WRSURGXFHLWHIĂ&#x20AC;FLHQWO\¡¾ AutomaticTV gives clubs that opportunity. No longer do they require a â&#x20AC;&#x153;traditional camera to produce a gameâ&#x20AC;?. So while very few lower-league teams are currently broadcasting matches live, Margenat claims AutomaticTV can bring about JHQXLQHFKDQJH´,QĂ&#x20AC;YH\HDUVÂľKH says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have your soccer game or basketball game produced, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to be the weirdo.â&#x20AC;? 7KHLQĂ XHQFHRI $XWRPDWLF79 could extend well beyond the sphere of professional sport. The technology also has the potential to revolutionise amateur organisations like sports clubs, schools and colleges. Parents tend to crave involvement in their childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sporting endeavours, and AutomaticTV offers new ways for them to engage. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I pay â&#x201A;Ź35 for my kid to play in a handball club,â&#x20AC;? Margenat reveals. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But if they were to ask me to pay â&#x201A;Ź42 to get all the coverage of the games, of course I would pay it. It means I can access games when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m travelling, or if I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t attend. Or I can get the media and share it.â&#x20AC;? The example highlights the fact that AutomaticTV not only helps sporting bodies to better engage with

fans, but also provides them with a number of new revenue streams. By uploading video clips, clubs and organisations can breathe life into their social media accounts and ZHEVLWHVLQFUHDVHWUDIĂ&#x20AC;FDQGDWWUDFW online advertisers. Producing content DOVRPDNHVLWVLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWO\HDVLHUWR attract sponsors and arena advertising. There may be opportunities to license content to broadcasters or, as Margenat suggests, organisations can charge fans a small fee to access the video content they upload. Indeed, with the technology AutomaticTV offers, there is no need for customers to rely on traditional broadcast methods to produce professional content. The centrepiece of AutomaticTV is ATV Producer, the autonomous system that creates and streams video content. This can EHĂ&#x20AC;[HGRUSRUWDEOHDQGFXVWRPHUV can have the option of purchasing an accompanying microphone to record ambient sound. But AutomaticTV also give users access to a suite of associated products. ATV Editor enables users to

Automatic TVâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s systems are scalable from fullscale professional events to amateur and youth-level games

The Automatic TV Planner allows the user to monitor recordings from their smart device

create highlights and customise video. ATV Planner is the end-user interface, which allows the user to monitor the recording from a smartphone or tablet, to give instructions to the system, or â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in the case of bigger organisations â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to remotely control a number of venues concurrently. ATV Manager ensures that the maintenance, licensing and upgrading of the system are all performed remotely. Additionally, the latest version of AutomaticTV includes ATV Director, a new feature that allows users to manually operate cameras with a joystick. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want people to use our system more and more,â&#x20AC;? states Margenat , â&#x20AC;&#x153;but in the pavilion or the stadium, you have other activities apart from the match. For example, the prize giving. You cannot cover this automatically, so you switch to manual. So if you want to host table tennis, or a concert in your pavilion, AutomaticTV can cover it.â&#x20AC;? Such a decision is revealing. AutomaticTV will continue to automate more sports â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Margenat expects a new addition every three months â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but also plans on creating a malleable system that can record anything that occurs within a venue. As AutomaticTV continues to expand, Margenat expects the price of the system to fall â&#x20AC;&#x201C; hardware is currently the primary expense â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and for the technology to continue to improve. He explains that v1.4 allows users to â&#x20AC;&#x153;stream ten feeds at the same timeâ&#x20AC;? or simultaneously upload â&#x20AC;&#x153;two different productionsâ&#x20AC;?. Moving forward, the possibilities for such a revolutionary product would seem to be endless. As Margenat concludes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;It just depends on your bandwidth. Your bandwidth is the limit, not AutomaticTV.â&#x20AC;?

Contact AutomaticTV Visit: email: Call: +34 609 031 057

SportsPro Magazine | 103


DEALS REVIEW Sports industry deal-making highlights from December 2016 and January 2017 Alibaba announced as Olympic TOP sponsor Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has been announced as the newest member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) top-tier sponsorship roster. Joining The Olympic Partner (TOP) programme, the conglomerate becomes both the official cloud services and e-commerce platform services partner of the IOC. Alibaba has also been named as a founding partner of the Olympic Channel, the new over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting platform of the Olympic movement. Alibaba will offer cloud computing infrastructure and services to the IOC, supporting the body’s push to modernise its analytics, e-commerce and digital media offerings. It will also provide services to the national organising committees of each Olympic Games for which it is a partner. The deal runs until the end of 2028, covering the next three Olympic cycles. Significantly, the timeframe takes in three Olympic Games in Alibaba’s biggest market of Asia, with the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, and the 2022 Winter Games, which will take place in Alibaba’s home territory in Beijing. The partnership was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with IOC president Thomas Bach present alongside Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, and Daniel Zhang, the group’s chief executive.

“Alibaba is proud to empower the International Olympic Committee in a gamechanging digital transformation, while moving another step closer toward our goal to serve two billion consumers,” said Zhang. “We will leverage our experience in serving a young user base to help connect more young people to the Olympic movement, helping to strengthen our brand through this historic partnership.”

Danny Willett becomes global ambassador of Descante British golfer Danny Willett has signed an apparel agreement with Japanese sportswear brand Descante. The 2016 Masters champion will wear the challenger brand’s golf apparel for the duration of the deal, which began with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on 19th January. The world number 11 will lend his image to future advertising campaigns for the manufacturer, which describes itself as creating ‘premium athletic golf wear’. Willett will also make a set number of personal appearances in his role as global ambassador. “I’m really excited to be joining Descante,” said Willett. “The clothing is fantastic quality and I really

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Ma, China’s second richest man, has followed many of his countrymen in recent times in making a significant push into sport, though this marks the first time a Chinese company has been signed up as a TOP sponsor. Wanda, the group owned by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, last year signed a significant partnership with Fifa, the global governing body for soccer.

like the style. It’s unique and not like anything else you see out on tour. My family and I have also been using the skiwear and it is brilliant. I’m proud to be an ambassador of such a great clothing company.” Catherine JuYoung Rhee, sports marketing manager for Descante, added: “We are thrilled at this new association with Danny, and to have partnered with the current Masters champion is a great honour for our brand. “This is the perfect partnership for us and gives us the opportunity to globally increase our presence in what is a rapidly expanding market for us.” Willett won the 2016 Masters by three shots from American Jordan Spieth and fellow Briton Lee Westwood.

Red Bull and Bayern partner for multi-purpose arena

Frank Warren signs up Nicola Adams Two-time Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams has announced her decision to turn professional, signing with veteran boxing promoter Frank Warren. Warren has signed the British boxer on a multiyear deal. Under the terms of the agreement, all of Adams’ fights will be shown in the UK on Warren’s broadcast partner, pay-TV channel BT Sport, and the promoter’s own dedicated boxing channel BoxNation. The first professional bout of the partnership will be on the undercard of Terry Flanagan’s WBO World Lightweight Championship defence against Petr Petrov on 8th April at the Manchester Arena. Adams’ second fight is scheduled for 13th May in her home city of Leeds on the undercard of WBC Silver Featherweight champion Josh Warrington. “Of all of all the signings I have made in my 35 years in the sport of boxing, this is among the

most I have been excited about,” said Warren. “Nicola is a national icon already and is without doubt Great Britain’s most successful amateur boxer of all time. She is a tremendous fighter and has a wonderful personality that lit up both Olympic Games where she captured two consecutive gold medals. Adams added: “I’m so excited to be announcing my first professional fight. This is the next step on my journey and to be working with BT Sport and Frank Warren is amazing. Together we can help take woman’s boxing to a new levels and I can’t wait to get in the ring in April and start working towards becoming a world champion one day.” Adams followed up her gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games with victory over Sarah Ourahmoune of France in Rio four years later. The Leeds native became the first ever female boxer to defend an Olympic title and the first British boxer to do so in 92 years.

NBC and MLBAM agree streaming deal MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) has struck an agreement with NBC Sports Regional Networks, giving Comcast Sportsnet (CSN) customers access to free live streams of locally broadcast Major League Baseball (MLB) games from the 2017 regular season. The deal means that games broadcast on CSN’s regional channels - part of the NBC Sports network - will now be available to stream on the NBC sports app and on CSN’s regional websites. The agreement covers MLB franchises the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.

Red Bull and FC Bayern Munich have announced that they will collaborate to develop a new multi-purpose venue in Munich. Plans are for the two parties to work together to renovate the old Olympic Velodrome, converting the arena into the new home of the FC Bayern Munich basketball side and ice hockey team EHC Red Bull Munich. The arena, which is due for completion in 2019, will have a capacity of around 10,000. Work will cost around US$106 million. Red Bull’s Austrian founder Dietrich Mateschitz has suggested this money will be recouped through rental income generated by the stadium. Mateschitz also reflected that recently reinstated Bayern Munich president Ulrich Hoeness was crucial in driving the deal forward. FC Bayern Munich currently play home games at the Audi Dome, which holds around 6,700. EHC Red Bull Munich compete at the Olympic Stadium, in an arena which also has a capacity of just over 6,000.

David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Group platform and content strategy, said: “This is a home run for our local sports fans. We are constantly looking for ways to better serve our fans and provide comprehensive coverage of their favourite teams. With the addition of MLB in-market streaming rights, they don’t have to miss a pitch.” The 2017 MLB season begins on 2nd April, when the New York Yankees face off against the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year’s World Series was won by the Chicago Cubs, who overturned a 3-1 deficit to triumph over the Cleveland Indians.

For more information on these deals and daily updates from across the sports industry, visit

SportsPro Magazine | 105


DIRECTORY OF SPONSORSHIP DEALS Signed in December 2016 and January 2017 Flamengo strike shirt deal with Carabao

Scott announces Orica title sponsorship

Atlético Madrid renew with Plus500

Brazilian soccer club Flamengo have agreed a lucrative new shirt sponsorship deal with Carabao. According to Brazilian media reports, the Thai-based energy drinks brand’s logo will adorn the sleeves of the club’s shirt this year, before replacing Caixa in the main chest spot in 2018. The deal, which remains subject to approval by the club’s board, is reportedly worth R$190 million (US$58.2 million) plus sales-related bonuses over six years. reports that the club will receive R$15 million (US$4.6 million) this year and R$35 million (US$10.72 million) in each of the following five. Carabao’s investment means Flamengo will earn some R$53 million (US$16.23 million) from their shirt sponsors in 2017. Caixa is said to be paying R$25 million (US$7.65 million) for the chest space, while the remainder is generated through separate deals with Yes!, MRV and TIM. Length of contract: 6 years Annualised value: US$9.6 million Overall value: US$58.2 million Sport: Soccer

Scott Sports has been revealed as the new co-title sponsor of Australia’s only International Cycling Union (UCI) World Tour team, previously known as OricaBikeExchange. Both the men’s team and the women’s team, formerly Orica-AIS, will be rebranded as Orica-Scott for the next three season. Scott has been a bike supplier to the Australian outfit for five years. Although no financial terms have been released, such sponsorships in cycling are estimated to be worth an annual fee in the region of €10million (US$11.1million). “They have seen the value and we are now a genuine general classification team,” said Gerry Ryan, owner of Orica-Scott. “Five years ago when we started out, we knew that one day we would have the talent required to become a general classification contender and now we’ve got three genuine chances.” Length of contract: 3 years Annualised value: US$10 million Overall value: US$30 million Sport: Cycling

Spanish soccer side Atlético Madrid have extended their sponsorship agreement with Plus500 for a further season. The online brokerage will continue to be the La Liga outfit’s front-of-shirt sponsor for the 2017/18 season, retaining a role that it assumed in January 2015. Furthermore, it will have a strong brand presence at Atlético’s home, the Vicente Calderón. The financial terms of the deal have not been released but the original Plus500 contract was widely reported to be worth €11 million per season, with the new deal not thought to offer a significant increase on that. “We are delighted to have extended the partnership agreement with Plus500,” said Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, Atlético Madrid’s chief executive. “We believe that this partnership has proved itself to date and is supporting our growth and progress. We look forward to continuing our journey with them.” Length of contract: 1 year Annualised value: US$11 million Overall value: US$11 million Sport: Soccer

HNA sponsors golf’s Open de France

Axiata gets naming rights for Putra Stadium

Lydia Ko signs equipment deal with PXG

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has been announced as the new sponsor of golf’s Open de France. The deal, set to last five years, is worth US$35 million. HNA’s sponsorship will support a US$7 million yearly prize fund. The agreement is part of a larger drive to revamp the European Tour, which in November launched its new Rolex Series, bringing together its leading events under one banner. HNA’s sponsorship also follows its purchase of eight golf courses in Washington State, USA for US$137.5 million in October 2016. Chen Wenli, vice chairman of the HNA Group, said: “The commitment we are making to the European Tour provides HNA Group with the opportunity to further promote golf’s growing popularity among Asian consumers and travellers.” The Open de France is held in July. This year, it will act as the final event of the Rolex Series, a collection of eight European Tour tournaments each offering at least US$7 million in prize money. Length of contract: 5 years Annualised value: US$7 million Overall value: US$35 million Sport: Golf

The Axiata Group has struck an agreement with the Malaysian Stadium Corporation (MSC) to rebrand Putra Indoor Stadium as the Axiata Arena. According to youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the deal is worth RM55 million (US$12 million) over a ten-year period. As part of the redevelopment of the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex, the Axiata Arena will be transformed into a modern, multi-sports arena with a capacity of over 14,000 and an improved technological infrastructure. It will be a focal point when the complex reopens in July 2017 under the new name KL Sports City. The Axiata Arena is expected to host events during the Southeast Asian Games in July and The Southeast Asian Para Games in August. Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, Axiata’s group president and chief executive, said: “This is the first deal of its kind and we are committed to supporting the government initiative in this particular field.” Length of contract: 10 years Annualised value: US$1.2 million Overall value: US$12 million Sport: Multiple sports

New Zealand golf star Lydia Ko has entered into a five-year equipment deal with Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG). The women’s world number one will use PXG clubs with immediate effect. She will carry the brand logo on her tournament apparel and, in addition, lend her image to the company’s advertising campaigns. At the end of the 2016 season, Ko left previous club supplier Callaway, who she signed with prior to turning pro in 2014. The financial terms of the PXG deal have not been released but according to golf blogger Geoff Shackelford, it is worth NZ$14.5million (US$10million) over the duration of the contract. Challenger brand PXG currently has four LPGA players under contract in Gerina Piller, Alison Lee, Cristie Kerr and Beatriz Recari. Zach Johnson and Billy Horschel are among the men’s PGA Tour pros who have deals with PXG. Length of contract: 5 years Annualised value: US$2 million Overall value: US$10 million Sport: Golf

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Racing Club net Kappa deal Argentinian soccer side Racing Club de Avellaneda have unveiled Kappa as their new apparel provider. The partnership is set to last two and a half years, with Kappa providing kits for the remainder of the 2016/17 season, as well as the two subsequent seasons. The Italian sportswear company replaces Topper, which had been in partnership with Racing Club since 2014. The financial details of the partnership were not officially released, although Argentinian media have reported that the deal is worth around US$3 million a year. Length of contract: 3 years Annualised value: US$3 million Overall value: US$7.5 million Sport: Soccer Brokerage firm Plus500 has renewed its front-of-shirt sponsorship deal with Atlético Madrid

Chip Ganassi extend DC Solar deal Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) have announced that clean energy provider DC Solar will return as the primary sponsor of Brennan Poole’s number 48 Chevrolet Camaro for the 2017 Nascar Xfinity Series. The deal is a season-long partnership and will see Poole’s car decked in DC branding throughout 2017. Poole was named Xfinity Series rookie of the year in 2016. The deal is expected to be worth around US$5 million dollars to CGR. Length of contract: 1 year Annualised value: US$5 million Overall value: US$5 million Sport: Motorsport

Auto-Owners doubles down with Truex Jr Nascar team Furniture Row Racing have announced a deal that will see Auto-Owners Insurance continue as a primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr in the Nascar Monster Energy Cup Series. The Lansing, Michigan-based insurer will serve as the lead backer of Truex Jr.’s number 78 Toyota Camry for six races in both 2017 and 2018, having supported the American, 36, for three races last year, including his win at Darlington Raceway in November. The six races this year include events in Kansas in May, Michigan in June, Indianapolis in July, Charlotte in October, and Phoenix in November. The financial terms have not been released but the deal is estimated to be worth upwards of US$5 million, based on comparable sponsorship contracts in Nascar. Length of contract: 2 years Annualised value: US$2.5 million Overall value: US$5 million Sport: Motorsport

Byron goes back to university

AB de Villiers gets a new bat sponsor

Nascar Xfinity Series driver William Byron will once again have Liberty University as his primary sponsor for the 2017 season of the championship. Byron’s number nine Chevrolet Camaro will carry the university’s branding for 17 races throughout the year. The deal is estimated to be worth in the region of US$3.5 million. 19-year-old Byron, who will drive for JR Motorsport in the 2017 Xfinity Series campaign, won the rookie of the year award in the 2016 season of the Nascar Camping World Truck Series, Nascar’s third tier. Length of contract: 1 year Annualised value: US$3.5 million Overall value: US$3.5 million Sport: Motorsport

South African cricketer AB de Villiers has secured a three-year sponsorship deal with MRF. The Indian tyre manufacturer’s logo will be located on the back and front of the former South Africa captain’s bat. De Villiers will lend his image to the company’s advertising campaigns along with MRF’s other leading brand ambassadors from India’s national cricket team, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. South African outlet Times Live reports that the deal will be worth SAR28 million (US$2 million) over the three-year period. It also revealed that de Villiers’ contract had to be re-negotiated following the South African’s decision to realign his workload and reduce his future international appearances. MRF wants him to play more games and increase the brand’s visibility but de Villiers has of late missed South Africa’s 2016 tour of Australia and the home series against New Zealand through injury. Length of contract: 3 years Annualised value: US$666,000 Overall value: US$2 million Sport: Cricket

PosteMobile to sponsor Italian basketball Lega Basket Serie A (LBA), the premier division of Italian basketball, has signed a partnership with PosteMobile, making the virtual network operator the league’s title sponsor for the next three seasons. The agreement is reportedly worth US$2.1 million, and will run until the completion of the 2018/19 season. It covers both regular season and play-off matches, and will be launched at February’s Italian Cup. Egidio Bianchi, president of the LBA, reflected upon his satisfaction at partnering with a company of PosteMobile’s calibre, citing the two parties’ mutual desire for innovation and growth. Length of contract: 3 years Annualised value: US$700,000 Overall value: US$2.1 million Sport: Basketball

Olimpia jump to Adidas Top-tier Paraguayan soccer team Club Olimpia de Paraguay have agreed a four-year kit supply deal with German sportswear manufacturer Adidas, worth a reported US$1.5 million. The Asunciónbased side, who finished second in the Clausura phase of the Primera División in 2016, previously wore apparel supplied by Puma, Adidas’ historic rival in the German sportswear market. Length of contract: 4 years Annualised value: US$375,000 Overall value: US$1.5 million Sport: Soccer

SportsPro Magazine | 107


Bommarito names Indycar race The Bommarito Automotive Group has become the title sponsor of the inaugural Indycar race at the Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. The two-year deal is worth US$1 million, according to the St Louis Business Journal. The first Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will take place on 26th August 2017 Length of contract: 2 years Annualised value: US$500,000 Overall value: US$1 million Sport: Motorsport

Freiburg renew beer partnership Top-tier German soccer side SC Freiburg have renewed their partnership with Rothaus, a local brewery, for a further two years. The beer brand continues as a premium partner of the team until the end of the 2018/19 season. Its existing deal was due to expire at the conclusion of the current campaign. Its products will be served at concessions stands at Freiburg’s Schwarzwaldstadion while it will receive TV-visible advertising on pitchside hoardings during home games. Rothaus’ sponsorship of the Bundesliga club dates back to 2005 and is worth €500,000 a year to Freiburg, according to Freiburg are enjoying a strong season in this year’s Bundesliga, sitting in ninth place going into the winter break having been promoted to the top tier in the previous campaign. Length of contract: 2 years Annualised value: US$500,000 Overall value: US$1 million Sport: Soccer

Genoa defender Nicolas Burdisso (left) wears a shirt carrying the branding of new club sponsor Syneasy

THW Kiel take a Big Bau

NetOne strikes Zifa partnership

DKB Handball-Bundesliga outfit THW Kiel have secured an extension to their partnership with construction firm Big Bau Group. The company, which also sponsors the Keiler Woche sailing event and former Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) world number one Angelique Kerber, has become a second-tier team sponsor of the 20-time German champions. The deal runs until the end of the 2018/19 handball season and is estimated to be worth around €200,000 per year, according to Kiel finished in third place in the 2016 HandballBundesliga. Length of contract: 3 years Annualised value: US$200,000 Overall value: US$600,000 Sport: Handball

Mobile network operator NetOne has reached an agreement with the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to sponsor the country’s national soccer team throughout 2017, including during January’s African Cup of Nations (Afcon). The deal, rumoured to be worth around US$250,000, eases the financial pressure on Zifa. The governing body had been struggling to raise the funds to send its national team, known as the Warriors, to the Afcon finals, which took place in Gabon and saw the Warriors eliminated at the group stage, drawing one and losing two of their matches. Length of contract: 1 year Annualised value: US$250,000 Overall value: US$250,000 Sport: Soccer

Corinthians get new sleeve sponsor Brazilian soccer club Corinthians have entered into a one-year sponsorship agreement with Minds English School. As well as having its logo appear on the sleeve of Corinthians’ matchday jersey, the language school will receive promotional exposure across the club’s social media platforms. The partnership will be launched at the Florida Cup - a pre-season tournament that Corinthians are competing in - and is set to run for the entirety of the 2017 season. The financial details of the partnership have not been confirmed, although Marquina do Esporte has reported it to be worth around US$630,000. Length of contract: 1 year Annualised value: US$630,000 Overall value: US$630,000 Sport: Soccer

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Genoa confirm Sanofi tie-up Flamengo brush up with Orthopride Brazilian soccer side Flamengo have confirmed a deal with Orthopride, a provider of oral health services. The agreement will see Orthopride’s logo worn on Flamengo’s matchday playing shirts and around the club’s Estádio da Gávea training ground for the next two seasons. According to Brazilian media, the deal is worth a total of US$466,000 across the two years. Flamengo were eliminated in the semi-final stage of last season’s Campeonato Carioca, the state championship for Rio-based clubs, and finished third in Brazil’s national Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. Length of contract: 2 years Annualised value: US$233,000 Overall value: US$466,000 Sport: Soccer

Italian top-tier soccer outfit Genoa CFC have signed Sanofi as a secondary shirt sponsor for the remainder of the 2016/17 season. The global healthcare company has confirmed a deal with the club that will see two of its brands advertised on the team’s playing shirts, just below the club badge. The branding of Syneasy, a collagen product, will be placed on the home kits, while pharmaceutical drug manufacturer Zentiva will appear on the away strip. In line with similar agreements in Serie A, the deal is likely to be worth in the region of €150,000 (US$156,000) to the club. Sanofi joins main sponsor Prenatal, a provider of maternity products, on Genoa’s playing shirts. Length of contract: 1 year Annualised value: US$156,000 Overall value: US$156,000 Sport: Soccer






Issue 92





Digital and data: Live sport goes social

SOCIAL PyeongChang 2018: VIEWING One year to go


JUST ABOUT MANAGING As the managing director and founder of agency International Sports Management, Andrew â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Chubbyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Chandler has been the architect of countless sporting careers over a quarter of a century. Yet his own career continues to evolve, with new clients, a burgeoning interest in horse racing, and a role in setting up the Turkish Airlines Open. By George Dudley


ot since the halcyon days of the 1980s has the European Tour produced such a rush of major winners as it has in recent years. Five of golf â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s last 11 elite tournaments have been won by those on that circuit. During that earlier period of continental supremacy â&#x20AC;&#x201C; when players like Sir Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Seve Ballesteros were picking up green jackets at Augusta â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Andrew â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Chubbyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Chandler was, by his own admission, a journeyman golfer. In the European gameâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second coming, he has been at the forefront with his hugely successful agency International Sports Management (ISM). Founded in 1989 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with little more than a box of business cards, Chandlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s innate ability to secure travel deals, four golfers and a little-known South African sponsor â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ISM has progressed to become one of the major players in European golf and with interests far beyond. Chandlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largerthan-life persona has long been a major asset to the agency but his empathy, as a former player, is arguably his most valuable attribute. The Greater Manchester man says that â&#x20AC;&#x153;by smoothing out the administrative, PDUNHWLQJDQGORJLVWLFDOGLIĂ&#x20AC;FXOWLHVIRUD player, he can concentrate 100 per cent on his gameâ&#x20AC;?. The successful and prolonged JROĂ&#x20AC;QJFDUHHUVRI ,60VWDOZDUWVOLNHIRUPHU world number one Lee Westwood and the 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke certainly attest to this. Although ISM is rooted in the representation of golfers, the organisation has expanded to take on cricketers, show jumpers and snooker players. The cricket arm of the company, which is run under the careful eye of former England batsman Neil Fairbrother, boasts arguably the highest-calibre collection of modern

English stars in one agency: leading batsman Joe Root, bowling stalwart Stuart Broad and prodigious all-rounder Ben Stokes to name a few. Nevertheless, golf is Chandler and ,60¡VĂ DJVKLSGLYLVLRQDQGWKHKLJK point of his management career arrived in 2011 when three of his charges â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Clarke â&#x20AC;&#x201C; held the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship respectively. McIlroy has since moved to new representation and Clarkeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s form waned under the burden of being Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2016 Ryder Cup captain. However, Chandler has kept evolving and continued to do what he specialises in: nurturing young talent. With emerging players like Matt Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett beginning to blossom, the future continues to look bright for the Cheshire-based agent. It was in 2016, with Yorkshireman Willett, that Chandler returned to golf â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s WRSWDEOH7KH0DVWHUVWKHĂ&#x20AC;UVWPDMRU of the season and to some the most important golf tournament of the year, seemed to be heading the way of the then world number one Jordan Spieth, who KHOGDĂ&#x20AC;YHVKRWOHDGJRLQJLQWRWKHEDFN nine of the last round. What followed has already passed into infamy, with the $PHULFDQĂ&#x20AC;QGLQJWKHPXOWLSOHZDWHUWUDSV through Augusta Nationalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s notorious â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Amen Cornerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, losing six shots in three KROHV:LOOHWWHPHUJHGIURPWKHĂ&#x20AC;HOGWR win the prestigious green jacket by three shots from the beleaguered Spieth and Chandler stablemate Westwood. Such blue-chip days are rare and often represent the denouement to a manager and playerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s collaboration: most of their work is behind the scenes and seldom seen or heard about.



&KDQGOHU¡VPXQLĂ&#x20AC;FHQWQDWXUHDQG memories of struggling on the European Tour have meant that he is always willing to assist the careers of promising golfers, offering advice or even reaching into his own pockets. It was in this spirit that he set up a standalone ISM brand, the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Class of 2016 and 2017â&#x20AC;&#x2122;, which instead of doling out one-off donations creates an infrastructure for a select group of young players that provides them with collective sponsorship deals and, in turn, allows them to thrive on the fairways. Chandler â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as he has for countless golfers before â&#x20AC;&#x201C; acts as their manager and mentor, and will almost certainly end up as a friend. How and why did you begin ISM?

I played on the European Tour from 1974 to â&#x20AC;&#x2122;85. I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dedicated enough, probably because I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a mentor to point me in the right direction, and I think that the money that it was possible to earn then was nothing like what is possible now. It was sort of like a holiday â&#x20AC;&#x201C; well, that was the mindset, almost. I played OK in â&#x20AC;&#x2122;85, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;86 and â&#x20AC;&#x2122;87. Those were my ďŹ nest years. From the late 70s I used to do a bit of travel organising for guys and the odd hotel deal for the people I played with: Michael King, Carl Mason and Nick Job. Looking back, that was the beginning of my job â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but at the time you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realise it. I survived on tour because I got sponsorship. I was doing corporate golf in the 70s; there werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a lot of people doing them at the time. The ďŹ rst corporate gig I did was for a company called SeaLand, who are a container company. I remember being nervous as hell about doing a clinic but the ďŹ rst shot I had to play was a nine iron and when it ďŹ&#x201A;ew into the air, the crowd gasped

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Buttler, Jos








Byrd, Steve

10, 38, 52 96 10, 68, 74, 96




CBS 74



Anderson, Gary APPLE




34, 68



Chandler, Andrew â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Chubbyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;




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Baxter, Anthony


Bentley, Harry


Bland, John


Blatter, Sepp




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Bratches, Shawn


Brawn, Ross




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Collins, Richard

62 84


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Lampard, Frank


Lau, Derek

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Finchem, Tim


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Deller, Keith

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K 44



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Guevara, Che

Clare, David

Coltart, Andrew


Infantino, Gianni

Dixon, David


Choi, Soon-sil


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74, 96



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Monahan, Jay Montagliani, Victor MONUMENTAL SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT

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16, 34, 38, 84



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Teixeira, Alex







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Z Zuckerberg, Mark

Van Barneveld, Raymond

Taylor, Phil




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SportsPro Magazine | 111


A GUIDE TO THOUGHT LEADERSHIP Like many of you, I sometimes have thoughts. This can be thrilling but in the viciously competitive sports knowledge economy, thoughts will only get you so far: being known as an industry opinion-former is where the money is.

was properly hot. See also: any agency with ‘Republic’ in its title.

TONE OF VOICE Innocent Smoothies meets Martin Luther King.

‘LIKE A TED TALK’ THE TIME-RICH, IDEAS-POOR DEMOGRAPHIC Today’s democratised internet allows all of us to reach an audience. This will be largely made up of lazy account managers and prisoners: people with time on their hands and who are weak-minded enough to have their views shaped by what they read on LinkedIn.

A WHITE PAPER Science has proved that more people write Thought Leadership White Papers than have read them. Nonetheless, the very existence of a white paper does much of the heavy lifting when seeking to create gravitas: pages and pages full of words, like a New Yorker feature.

AN IDEAS MANIFESTO For the more fashionable, a manifesto takes the Thought Leadership White Paper and adds some communist chic, only without the grinding poverty and loss of hope. Think Che Guevara, when he had a hipster beard and

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There comes a time when typing is not enough and you’ll feel the impulse to take your thoughts on the road. Conferences are an essential component of the plan and, luckily, there’s a loophole to be exploited by the aspiring opinion-former. The properly smart people tend to want a fee to appear. They see this as a reward for reading books and arriving at their ideas after a period of serious study. But payment undermines the conference business model, which relies on the ambition of lightweight chancers. By doing it for free, the sports business everyman can get on stage and go ‘full Gladwell’.

MENTION SHOREDITCH IN CONVERSATION Shoreditch is UK sport business shorthand for ‘the future’, a mythical place inhabited by ‘tech-savvy Millennials’. For a US audience, try Brooklyn or Portland.

STORYTELLING Like all the best episodes of Midsomer Murders, there’s a

simple three-part structure to any sport business opinion blog post. The first paragraph establishes that ‘sport is big business’. This can be applied to all verticals. ‘Rugby is big business’ is a cracking start to a piece. And ‘women’s sport is big business’ will go a long way to endearing you to Sally Hancock. This is followed by what proper writers call ‘the difficult middle bit’, in which your argument is built by quoting other people saying things, and graphs. Then we come to the end. The final can be summarised by the phrase: ‘But the future is uncertain’. This is the perfect get out of jail free card for when your 6,000-word missive on what Liberty can do to grow Formula One turns out to be patronising and naive hogwash.

ZIG-ZAG In the market for ideas, it’s far more important to be different than correct. Nobody got famous just by being right: the great thought leaders type things that make the rest of us shudder with surprise and envy. It’s not enough to say that the Premier League bubble is about to burst – far better to suggest the next round of media rights will be a contest between Twitter and CBeebies.

BE A SEXY OUTLAW Steve Jobs used to wear a T-shirt with ‘Be an Outlaw’ on the front. Outlaws are sexy renegades who ride in to Dodge and terrorise the townspeople. When launching a new sports agency, give interviews with the trade press saying that you’re about to rip up the sports marketing rulebook. Don’t smile in the photo.

OWN A WORD The godfather of positive thinking, Tony Robbins, once tried to trade mark the word ‘ICAN’. Be like Tony and create your own term that becomes your calling card. There are still many words that remain unclaimed: Engagementism. OTTershite. DataSuckage. SPORTULTURAL. Narratelling. The only limit is your imagination.

LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE Do you have an exit plan? Great stories after all, have great endings. David Foster Wallace only really started selling books once he’d topped himself. Invest in your own career by doing that, too. Richard Gillis is the author of The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport’s Great Leadership Delusion. Follow him on Twitter @RichardGillis1

4 & 5 April 2017 · Swissotel Sydney early bird discount ends 9 dec Register today t0 save $500

The largest & Most Significant meeting for the sports industry in the region

Kate Johnson Vice-President, Head of Global Sponsorship Marketing

Tatjana Haenni Deputy Director, Head of Women’s Football

Victor Cui Chief Executive Officer and Owner


The Hon. Stuart Ayres MP Minister for trade, Tourism and Major Events Minister for Sport NSW

Visa (USA)

Amy McNicol Director, Global Sponsorships

Tony Shepherd AO Chairman

Craig Tiley Chief Executive Officer

The Hon. Peter Beattie AC Chairman


GWS Giants

Tennis Australia

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

Andrew Westacott Chief Executive Officer

Australian Grand Prix Corporation

Vinai Venkatesham Chief Commercial Officer

Arsenal F.C (UK)

For the full list of speakers, registration, or for more information, visit: or call: 02 8004 8590

ONE Championship (SGP)




by The Scribbler

Smashing news Tennis’ bad boy Nick Kyrgios (right) was fined US$2,500 by the sport’s governing body for a racquet-smashing outburst during his recent five-set defeat to Andreas Sippi at the Australian Open, and his uncontrollable id could yet burden him with further sanctions. Japanese equipment supplier Yonex, with whom the fiery Canberran has a supply deal, has taken measures of its own to promote a clean brand image, introducing a contract clause to censure players for every item destroyed. For a player like Kyrgios, whose combustibility draws such media attention, it seems unlikely that the financial hit taken from smashing a racquet will outweigh the gains.

Limp excuse Another month, another series of instalments into the seemingly endless Russian doping scandal. This time, among several other infractions, two members of the host nation’s women’s ice hockey team at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games were found to have submitted samples containing genetic material that was physically impossible to have come from a woman. The country’s deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko (above) offered that the athletes in question had had sex in the preceding five days, something which – obviously – could “arouse suspicion” in doping tests. Come on, Vitaly. You’re not even trying any more.

The seriousness of Discovery’s recent spat with Sky over the UK carriage rights to its channels, including Eurosport, is harder to ascertain in hindsight, since the whole high-profile affair ended in handshakes and an 11th-hour deal. Eurosport played the underdog – perhaps for the last time given its rising clout and Olympic broadcaster status – in a social media campaign that played up its value to viewers, while on-air reminders of its impending break from the Sky platform flooded its coverage of the Australian Open. There was even a note in commentary after the thrilling throwback of a men’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Some found that a little jarring – the Scribbler wonders whether, after a game that good, Discovery should have just cut transmission on the spot.

Hannah McKay/ PA Archive/PA Images

Drop the mic

Savouring the flavour Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur’s announcement that they would be providing VIP guests at their new stadium with a selection of specially sourced cheeses and building a microbrewery into the venue was an appetising tidbit, but perhaps even more enjoyable was observing which particular matchday treat various members of the London media chose to focus their excitement upon. The Guardian – favoured paper of the metropolitan liberal elite – was mentally sampling the half-time Roquefort, while the now online-only Independent, maybe positioning itself as the news organ of the millennial Shoreditch hipster, was already joining the queue for a foaming nut-brown ale. The Scribbler will not reveal his preference here, although he always did find watching Spurs thirsty work.

Stefan Rousseau/ PA Archive/PA Images

Dim and distant

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In the spirit of 1990s dystopian action movies, John Carpenter’s 1996 sequel Escape from LA was somewhat pessimistically set in the then not so distant future of 2013. It features an autocratic US president who strips of their citizenship anyone betraying his ‘Moral America’

laws, sending them to Los Angeles, now an isolated wasteland. The Scribbler isn’t sure why this is relevant. The film just came to mind when he heard that Paris might be awarded the 2024 Olympic Games, in an arrangement that would see the 2028 edition go to California.

Fans see a stadium. We see your campus.



SportsPro Magazine Issue #92  
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