Sports Ticker #98: Sports Business Awards 2023, Las Vegas Grand Prix, and the brands changing the world through sport

Published on 24 November 2023

In a fortnight which saw Manchester City post record revenue and profits, Everton receive a points deduction relating to P&S issues, and the League of Legends World Championship become the most watched esports tournament, we bring you updates on the Sports Business Awards 2023, Las Vegas Grand Prix and Kansas City Chiefs' new relationship (no, not that one…).

As always, if there are any issues on which you'd like more information (or if you have any questions or feedback), please do let us know or get in touch with your usual contact at RPC.

Nothing but net at Sports Business Awards 2023

The Netball World Cup 2023 has been named the "Best Sporting Event of the Year 2023" at the Sports Business Awards 2023 in London. The Netball World Cup takes place every four years and this year, the 60th anniversary, it took place in Africa for the first time. The judges praised the tournament's organisation, commerciality, and social impact, saying the tournament has been "firmly established as a global sporting event with really impressive scale and reach". They highlighted the tournament structure and the high number of competitive games produced under it, which led to it being categorised as the most successful commercial programme for sponsorship and broadcast in Netball World Cup history. In key broadcast markets reach exceeded 11 million people and, for the first time in history, the event was recorded and produced by an all-woman crew from SuperSport. A full list of awards, winners and nominees is available here.

A whole lot of money that's ready to burn: Drama Las Vegas

The inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix was not only the most expensive race in Formula One history but also one of the most dramatic. On Thursday, a loose drain cover threatened the entire weekend, terminating first practice after only nine minutes. The second practice session, scheduled for midnight, was delayed to the point that the 35,000 fans were sent home when security staff reached the end of their shifts. A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf on the displaced and disgruntled spectators. Carlos Sainz could be forgiven if he was also considering a lawsuit after the impact of the drain cover on his Ferrari necessitated a new engine, leading to a 10-place grid penalty. Max Verstappen spent the week criticising the spectacle, describing it as "99% show and 1% sporting event". He did appear to change his mind by Sunday, whether because of PR pressure from F1 or just because his 18th win in 22 races cheered him up. The race is said to have cost $500million which somewhat explains why a 3-day ticket was $11,247. It is unclear whether Las Vegas will remain on the F1 calendar after fierce criticism from the city's residents and business owners.

Battle of the Broadcasters: Amazon and TNT pursue Premier League and WSL TV rights

Competition is heating up amongst broadcasters for both the Premier League and Women's Super League (WSL) television rights. Amazon joins DAZN in considering a bid for the Premier League, challenging the dominance of Sky Sports and TNT. After smaller packages of games became unavailable, Amazon had been expected to drop out the race, but an increased 4-year term has attracted them to packages of up to 65 fixtures. By comparison TNT currently screen 52 matches per season, but their investment is also broadening as they poise to bid for the WSL rights. Greater competition with the current broadcasters Sky and BBC will grow WSL's value considerably, with a significant increase on the number of televised games already on the table. TNT's bid would continue their increased investment in women's sport, having also announced a deal this week to broadcast 20 Premiership Women's Rugby games each season.

IKEAn't wait: Sweden 2030 Olympics

Sweden's government and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce have committed to providing the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic Committees with the necessary guarantees and financial support for their 2030 Winter Games bid. It is estimated that between 150,000 and 175,000 tourists would visit Sweden for the Games, generating more than SEK 1 billion (£75 million) for the Nordic nation. The government indicated that its commitment was based on "tourism, economy, image, sports, and sustainability." The Swedish Olympic Committee has previously laid out plans to host the most sustainable Games in history. Sweden's bid for the 2026 Winter Games lost to Italy, and now faces USA, Switzerland and France for 2030. The final decision will not be made by the International Olympic Committee until sometime in 2024.

Kansas City Chief's New Relationship

Reigning Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs recently played in Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt, as part of the NFL's international expansion. This game, the first of two to be played in Germany, followed three games in London. The NFL's cross-Atlantic move is proving popular with European fans (a combined 309,167 fans attended the five games), with the Chiefs looking to capitalise on this momentum. The team has been awarded international marketing rights in Germany, Mexico, Australia and Switzerland, giving it them one of the widest-ranging reaches in the league. The Chiefs' CMO, Lara Krug, explained that "the real opportunity was going to be in [reaching] more experiential casual fans". The Chiefs hosted various activities in Germany ahead of their international game, and the team has now formalised a relationship with Bayern Munich. Krug credited social media and digital media with helping American Football expand into Germany but believes that, rather than competing with German football leagues, the two leagues should co-exist and co-operate. The relationship between the two teams followed Bayern Munich's historical partnership with Major League Soccer team FC Dallas, which is owned by the same family as the Kansas City Chiefs.

Extra time...

...and finally, the Laureus Sport for Good Index 2023 has been announced. Now in its third year, the Index champions brands who are using sport to drive positive social and environmental change. The 30 brands hail from a range of industry sectors, including energy, technology, transport, finance, and, of course, sports. The Index measures brands' contributions against 17 Sustainable Development Goals as laid out by the UN, and the honourees are featured for their campaigns and purpose-led initiatives. For example, TikTok has been recognised for its Swipe Out Hate campaign around the 2023 Six Nations, Patagonia has been applauded for its climate change, sustainability, and workers' rights initiatives, and Lego has demonstrated its commitment to championing young girls through sports, play, and other activities. The Index was incepted to highlight the role that sports can play in wider society, with chairman Sean Fitzpatrick saying the honourees' values "reflect the Laureus mission of using sport to change the world".