Sports Ticker #94: World Rugby fantasy league game, all-green PGA and PSG to open first UK store – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world
In a fortnight which saw Oscar Piastri celebrate the extension of his McLaren contract until the end of 2026 with a podium finish in Japan, and Mary Earps be awarded England Women's Player of the Year, we bring you updates on World Rugby's new fantasy league game and BMW PGA's commitment to be the first sports TV production to be powered entirely by green hydrogen. We also cover Unity Engine's proposal to introduce fees to game developers and the La Liga shirt sponsorship of Clwb Pel Droed Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
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World Rugby launches World Cup fantasy league with one-off programme after opening game drew over 15 million viewers
The opening match of the Rugby World Cup 2023 pitted hosts France against the All Blacks in front of a sell-out crowd of 78,690 spectators at the Stade de France. France's thrilling 27-13 victory was watched by an average of 15.4 million domestic viewers, figures which peaked at 17 million as the final whistle blew. This made it the most popular French programme of the year so far. World Cup fever is clearly gripping the host nation, with their team widely tipped to do well. To grow the audience beyond its traditional fans, World Rugby has also launched a Rugby World Cup 2023 fantasy league game in partnership with Genius Sports. The creation includes a tutorial on the rules of the game and players' positions.
Sky Sports and British Basketball League team up for fourth consecutive season
Sky Sports will continue its partnership with the British Basketball League for a fourth consecutive season after agreeing to broadcast 40 games from the men's and women's competition on Sky's linear channels and on YouTube. As part of a wider production revamp, the League recently replaced its former collaborators Buzz 16 and Brandvox with an in-house production team. It also set up a virtual studio to host the presentation of the competition on Sky Sports. Mani Gill, head of broadcast at the British Basketball League, said that Sky had "given [the League] a platform to help basketball grow exponentially in recent years" and that fans could expect the "highest quality broadcast presentation". Coverage will include a new presentation team line-up, guest analysis and commentary from coaches and players.
New Unity Engine fees infuriate game developers
Game development tool, Unity Engine, has announced plans to introduce new fees from 1 January 2024. Under the plans, developers will be charged according to the licence-type they have with Unity Engine, up to a maximum of $0.20, every time a game using the tool is installed. Although the fees won't bite until sales reach $200,000, developers are still not happy with the decision, with some questioning the charges incurred where the game is installed by the same user on multiple devices and also how the fees will work for subscription models. The announcement comes in the context of a seeming dip in financial performance with the company announcing net losses of $193m for Q2 2023, and any reported challenge to the terms of its license pricing could be particularly expensive.
A Tale of Two Cities: PSG first overseas football club to open physical store in the UK
Paris Saint-Germain has become the first non-British football club to open a club shop in London, setting up its new store in bustling Oxford Street. PSG has teamed up with American athletic headwear retailer Lids in setting up shop in England's capital, as it continues to develop its image worldwide. This is the latest step in the Qatari-owned French club's strategy to expand its global brand, with shops already open in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Seoul, Tokyo and, most recently, Las Vegas. It is no surprise that the club sees London as a prime location, with the UK being the second largest market for its products and home to the third largest diaspora of French people worldwide. The shop welcomed customers on 8 September and is open 7 days a week. Shoppers will be able to get their hands on the latest kits, training apparel and even figurines of their favourite players. PSG was recently ranked as the most dynamic sports franchise in the world by Forbes Magazine.
BMW PGA Championship to be the first sports TV production powered entirely by green hydrogen
The BMW PGA Championship is set to make history as the first sporting event to rely entirely on green hydrogen for its TV production. Two hydrogen-powered generators from UK-based company GeoPura will replace traditional diesel generators, resulting in a remarkable 16.4-tonne reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the previous year. These generators use green hydrogen, produced from renewable sources, to generate emission-free electricity for the broadcast compound. Additionally, golf buggies at the event will be recharged using hydrogen-generated electricity. This initiative is part of the DP World Tour's Green Drive campaign, aiming to achieve full net-zero carbon status by 2040, and signals a significant leap in adopting hydrogen power within the industry.
...and finally, La Liga, the top-tier of Spanish club football, has agreed to a 12-month shirt sponsorship deal with Llanfairpwll FC – a fifth-tier team from a village in North Wales. The La Liga logo will be displayed on the front of the club's home and away shirts in what the club's chairwoman Samantha Jones-Smith describes as an "outstanding partnership". The Anglesey-based club, which plays in Division One of the North Wales Coast West League, sports its full name "Clwb Pel Droed Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch" on its badge. Llanfair's manager Gwyndaf Hughes commented that the collaboration with La Liga would bring "further professionalism" to the club.