Sports Ticker #102: Giant joint streaming venture, UEFA's environmental efforts and Casemiro's move to Adidas – a speed read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 23 February 2024

In a fortnight which saw the Super Bowl LVIII become the most-watched American TV event since the moon landing, Sir Jim Ratcliffe complete his £1.3bn Manchester United deal, and Emirates announce a multi-year partnership deal with Wimbledon, we bring you updates on UEFA's greenest tournament yet, Casemiro parting ways with Nike, and the upcoming launch of a new sports streaming platform.

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Stream team: FOX, ESPN and Warner Bros' joint venture

Three media giants - Fox Corp, Disney's ESPN, and Warner Bros Discovery - are teaming up to launch a sports streaming platform with the stated aim of catering to younger audiences and diverse viewer preferences. This collaboration will merge their extensive sports rights (covering the FIFA World Cup, Formula 1, NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball) into a new service which can be purchased as part of a streaming bundle from Disney+, Hulu or Max. The service will debut with a new app, separate branding, and independent management, with each company owning one-third of the joint venture. In response to the announcement, streaming service FuboTV has this week filed an antitrust lawsuit in New York, alleging anti-competitive practices that aim to monopolise the market.

UEFA shoots for reduced air travel

The UEFA European Championship kicks off on 14 June and the organisers have made it their goal to host the most environmentally responsible tournament yet – including by seeking to reduce air travel to and from matches across host country Germany for both players and supporters. Where travel is necessary and under 3 hours, players are encouraged to use bus or rail. Fans are also incentivised to do the same via reduced fares and free shuttle buses, alongside limited car parking near stadiums. Unfortunately, however, it is bad news for Gareth Southgate and his England squad, who will have to tackle a 6-hour round trip by coach from their training base near Blankenhain to their match in Frankfurt. A "Climate Fund" has also been created, with UEFA pledging a donation to environmental charities of €25 for every tonne of CO2 emission produced. Environmentally responsible sponsors (such as electric car developers BYD) have been substituted in, whilst it appears that certain gas, oil and utility companies have been given a red card.

Casemiro sports Adidas

Casemiro, the Brazilian football star, has parted ways with Nike, following in the footsteps of his Manchester United teammate Lisandro Martinez. The decision coincides with Nike's reported £1.58 billion budget reduction over the next three years. Having worn Nike since his professional debut, Casemiro was seen sporting Adidas Predators in a recent match against Aston Villa and has now reportedly become an ambassador for the brand. This move mirrors Martinez's switch from Nike to Adidas, alongside other prominent players like Harry Kane and Jack Grealish. The shift away from Nike is part of a broader trend, with players like Kai Havertz and Alexandre Lacazette also transitioning to different brands, reflecting a changing landscape in football sponsorship. In further news for Nike, Concacaf has announced this week that Molten will replace Nike as official ball supplier in a 7-year partnership. 

Ackerley Sports Group tries for investment

Following South Africa's victory at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, South Africa Rugby looks set to establish a commercial vehicle with Seattle-headquartered investment group, Ackerley Sports Group (ASG), that will manage media and sponsorship rights. ASG will look to capitalise on the Springboks' tournament win, which made them the first team to take home the trophy four times, and a provisional agreement is now in place through which the parties aim to achieve equal commercial success. Broadcasting, partnerships, sponsorship, marketing, content and matchday revenue are within the remit of the agreement, with ASG set to take 20% ownership of the Commercial Rights Corporation that holds the assets. The deal is the latest in a series of investments in African sport which demonstrate growing commercial interest in the industry in the continent (see Ticker #101). Meanwhile, the British and Irish Lions have announced five two-year charity partnerships with organisations connected to the sport, each with a focus on wellbeing and physical and mental health.

Running the airwaves

BBC Sport and UK Athletics (UKA) lace up for a broadcast partnership spanning the 2024 Major Events series, allowing fans to enjoy live coverage on BBC One, iPlayer, and BBC Sports. Coverage began with the UK Athletics National Indoor Championships in Birmingham last weekend and the UK Athletics Championships and the Olympic Trials upcoming in June. Both Philip Bernie, Interim Director of BBC Sport, and UKA CEO Jack Buckner have expressed excitement about the partnership, highlighting the significance of bringing these events to the public ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. On a less positive note, as readers will be aware, the running community has been shocked by the death of 24-year-old marathon runner Kelvin Kiptum. Kiptum defied norms, achieving the fastest debut marathon in history in late 2022 then knocking an incredible 34 seconds off the World Record 10 months later. He was due to compete in Paris 2024 and had set his sights on becoming the first person ever to run a sub-2-hour marathon. The Sports Ticker team extends their condolences to his loved ones.


Extra time...

.....and finally, an unlikely story involving the meteoric rise of Spanish football team Girona and its main shirt sponsor, a local pet food company based just 30 minutes from Girona's stadium. The company, Gosbi, has sponsored Girona since 2021 when the club was fighting for promotion from Spain's second division. Now, three years later, Girona is on the cusp of breaking into the Champions League and Gosbi is receiving far greater exposure than it could possibly have predicted. This does not mean that Gosbi has struck gold though. In an interview with Forbes, sports sponsorship expert Philip Rouwenhorst warned that brand awareness will have little to no impact if a company is not able to scale up and profit from it. Rouwenhorst anticipates Gosbi being replaced by a more lucrative shirt sponsor from next season, with title rival Real Madrid receiving €70 million per season for its shirt sponsor deal with Emirates.

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