• Andy Marston

87: Premiership Rugby final on ITV, StockX NFTs, and X-Games finds a buyer

Trying to keep up with the football, cricket, and tennis over the past few days has meant navigating multiple sports channels, all behind independent paywalls (Sky Sports, BT Sport, Eurosport). It's a drag. However, this won't be a problem for fans wanting to watch Formula E next season.


And that's not the only sport to have announced a migration to free-to-air over the past week...

 

TOP STORY

Premiership Rugby final-ly free after ITV deal

ITV has agreed a new deal with Premiership Rugby to broadcast a number of matches, a weekly highlights programme, and the Twickenham final, on free-to-air television. It means that the final on Saturday, 18th June will be broadcast on free-to-air television for the first time on ITV4.


The deal, which will run until the end of the 2023-24 season, is part of the move to reconnect club rugby with its supporters, as the league is aware that they cannot grow the sport solely behind BT Sport’s paywall.


That said, ITV's selected matches will also be simulcast on BT Sport, who will continue to show live fixtures throughout the English men's domestic top-flight season as the rights-holder television broadcaster.


The news of the competition’s (partial) return to terrestrial TV is, however, “the perfect way to kick off 2022”, according to new Premiership Rugby chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor.


“It’s great news for the league, our clubs, the supporters and the profile of rugby in England,” he said. “Our ambition is to grow the game and make Gallagher Premiership Rugby available to as many people as possible.”


Sale’s match against leaders Leicester on Sunday will be the first of this season's five matches to be shown.


Our take: Starting a week prior to the Six Nations, this deal is well timed to tap into millions of more casual fans. However, arguably the key element to this deal is having a free-to-air final. We saw Channel 4 record a peak 9.2 million viewers for Emma Raducanu’s US Open final win and 7.4m people in the UK watched Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi championship decider across Channel 4 and Sky.


Supported by the lack of a major international men's football tournament (World Cup or European Championship) either this summer or next and with agreements in place for the next few years, Premiership Rugby now have a strong foundation on which to build towards making their final a focal point of the UK sporting calendar.


📚 Further Reading

  • Channel 4 signs exclusive multi-year broadcast deal with Formula E - Autosport

  • From shrewd acquisitions to free-to-air TV - what English cricket must learn from Australia - The Telegraph

  • Biased club commentary is something Premier League fans must cherish amid football's digital revolution - Daily Mail

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Zoe Scaman, Founder at Bodacious & Co-Founder at MCX (Mark Cuban Experiments) believes that, "NFT as an authenticator of physical goods is such an obvious but currently under-utilised use case."


That's after Stockx this week launched Vault NFTs, an experience where their customers can invest in NFTs tied to physical products and trade them instantly with lower fees. The buyer of a StockX Vault NFT will also own the corresponding physical item, including the opportunity to take possession of it at any time (it is otherwise stored in a secure, climate-controlled facility).


Similarly, a project called Otis House has also just launched. It describes itself as 'a marketplace, auction platform, and vault for physical items, built on top the Ethereum blockchain'. The physical items will be stored, vaulted, and insured by Otis, and they'll mint NFTs to represent ownership of those items.


Ultimately, this brings digital verification and instant liquidity of ownership to physical products. It's no wonder luxury brands such as LVMH and Gucci are also actively pursuing this...

📚 Further Reading

  • Amazon enters collectibles market with Dibbs investment - Front Office Sports

  • Bridging NFT’s to physical assets - Artefact Technology

  • New Balance trademark filings hint at NFT and metaverse ambitions - SportPro Media

 

WEEKLY ROUND UP

Investment

  • X Games Aspen 2022, which took place this weekend, looks like it will be the last under Walt Disney's control as Suns Vice Chairman Najafi and former MLB owner Moorad are set to buy the action sports brand. Sorry, Sahil.

Economics

  • A new study by EY highlights how the Premier League and its clubs have contributed £7.6billion to the UK economy during the 2019/20 season despite the significant challenges presented by COVID-19.

NFTs

  • The UFC has announced the launch of the ‘Strike’ NFT marketplace in collaboration with Dapper Labs. The financial details of the partnership have not been disclosed, but Sportico reports that profits from the NFTs will be split equally between the UFC and athletes.

Sponsorship

  • The IPL's Mumbai Indians have announced Slice as a new principal sponsor. The three-year agreement – Slice’s first sports sponsorship – sees the financial technology company replace Samsung on the front-of-shirt.

Finance

  • The Binnies, founders of investment company Carlisle Capital, have submitted a bid of about £28m to buy Championship club Derby County while former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has also recently been shown around Pride Park.

Politics

  • After spectators at Melbourne Park were instructed to remove T-shirts and banners bearing the slogan ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’, former tennis player Martina Navratilova has accused Australian Open organisers of “capitulating” to China

Esports

  • F1 Esports Series alumnus Cem Bolukbasi will race in the 2022 FIA Formula 2 Championship with Charouz Racing System, in a move that will mark the first time a virtual racer has graduated to the series.

 

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