Sports Ticker (15 December 2022) – Fury vs Chisora sponsorship, FIFA World Cup viewership and £400m bid for The Hundred – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 15 December 2022

In a fortnight which saw England defeated by France in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-finals, we bring you updates on the £400m bid for The Hundred, EE and EXCEL Esports' sponsorship renewal and BetFred's sponsorship of the Fury v Chisora heavyweight title fight. We also feature updates on beIN MENA's record breaking Qatar 2022 World Cup viewership and the innovative AI generated art based on world cup match outcomes that will become NFTs.

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Fury vs Chisora: A heavyweight sponsor steps into the ring

This fortnight saw Tyson Fury face off against Derek Chisora at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to retain his WBC world heavyweight title. Fury was the clear favourite before the bout and won by stoppage in the 10th round. This was Fury's return to the ring after he announced his retirement in April. Fury now claims that he wants to challenge Oleksandr Usyk in 2023 for a chance to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion. The UK bookmaker, Betfred, was the title sponsor of the bout with founder, Fred Done, stating that he was delighted to be the title sponsor because the heavyweight division "really captures the attention of both the public and punters alike". The fight filled the stadium with over 60,000 fans and was broadcast live on BT Box Office in the UK and Ireland and ESPN+ in the USA.

Howzat? £400m private equity bid for The Hundred

Bridgepoint Group, a London listed private equity firm, has made an offer of £400m for a 75% stake in English cricket's new franchise The Hundred. The Hundred was developed over the last two years as a more fast paced and actioned version of white ball cricket. The proposed investment comes at a time when interest in shorter formats of cricket are growing rapidly as seen by recent viewership figures for the T20 World Cup (see Ticker 75). The offer would provide each of the 18 counties with a significant sum that would help ease the financial burden felt during the pandemic. Whilst the offer is tempting, ECB Chairman Richard Thompson has stated that the competition should ''grow and develop first'', otherwise the ECB risk losing out on the value of the competition by selling early.

EE-sports - EXCEL Esports and EE renew sponsorship

EE and EXCEL Esports have signed a new 3-year deal to collaborate on gaming and sponsorship. EE has stated that its three main goals for its relationship with EXCEL Esports are (1) to improve inclusion in gaming, particularly targeting women, (2) to improve mental health support to gamers, and (3) to improve the overall gaming experience and encourage new users. EE logos will continue to feature on player's kits and EXCEL Esports will take advantage of EE's network and connectivity services at its HQ to train its gamers. Since the partnership began in 2020, EE and EXCEL Esports have together improved gaming interaction at a home level through the Connected Club Cup and have successfully rolled-out gaming bays in over 175 EE stores nationwide

beIN MENA scores hattrick of World Cup record-breaking audiences

The state-owned beIN Sports channel in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has smashed viewership records for the FIFA World Cup with this year's competition staged in Qatar, the first in the Arab world. Over one billion viewers tuned into the opening ceremony and the first round of matches from each group. This represents a 113% increase from the 2018 Russia World Cup, which is no surprise given the record representation of nations from the MENA region at this year's tournament. The biggest audience of the opening matches came in Saudi Arabia's incredible 2-1 comeback win over Argentina to which a total of 99.3 million viewers tuned in, including 71% of Saudi Arabia's total population. With Morocco's underdog wins over Spain and Portugal catapulting them into the semi-finals, we may see even more viewership records tumble as the tournament reaches its climax.

World Cup Wonders - AI generated NFTs based on match outcome

The Qatar 2022 World Cup has become home to an innovative combination of art, football and technology on display at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Qatar. The exhibition, titled 'From Strike to Stroke', consists of 64 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) created by 32 emerging and established artists from the competing nations. Each artist has been commissioned to create a piece representative of their country's colours. The Artificial Intelligence algorithm is then put to task post-match with generating a combination of the artists NFT creations by utilising match statistics. The end result is a unique art piece which is representative of each match outcome. In an increasingly digital age, projects like this aim to illustrate the increasing influx of technology and art into the world of sports.

Extra time...

...and finally, following a high profile exit from Manchester United in November, Portuguese superstar footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly considering a move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr that would see him earn the tidy sum of €200m per year. The abrupt end to Ronaldo’s second spell at the Manchester club came after the striker told journalist Piers Morgan in a viral interview that he had “no respect” for the club’s manager, Erik ten Hag. Ronaldo’s contract had seven months to run at £500k per week. The reported offer from Al-Nassr would dwarf that salary, with a figure of over £3m per week. Regardless of where he ends up next, Ronaldo must first serve a two-game ban for knocking a phone out of a fan’s hands back in April. It’s never boring with Cristiano... 

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