• Andy Marston

91: F1 entertainment venture, Six Nations eye South Africa, and Premier League consider NFT offers

Yesterday, one of the new IPL sides, Gujarat Titans, unveiled their logo in the metaverse - becoming the first professional sports team in India to do so.


That said, watching the T20 franchise's kite-shaped logo being revealed by Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill in the Titan's virtual 'Dugout' was largely underwhelming.


In fact, I was much more excited by an announcement from F1 about plans for physical "real world" entertainment venues. Let me explain more...

 

TOP STORY

Mixing Physical and Digital: F1 finding the right Formula

Formula 1 has announced a unique global licensing agreement with Kindred Concepts, a new company founded by hospitality expert Adam Breeden, to create an immersive, state of the art F1 racing simulation experience which aims to, “fuse racing and gaming with the excitement of Formula 1 and the fun of competitive socialising.”


This follows a well-established blueprint for Breeden – who since co-founding bowling chain All Star Lanes back in 2006, has launched numerous technology-enabled experiential leisure concepts, including Bounce, Flight Club, and Puttshack.


The latter is arguably the most famous, having completed a growth capital round of $60m last May – 2 months after Callaway completed their behemoth acquisition of Topgolf for $2.6bn. Ever since, there’s been numerous reports lauding all these faster, fun-to-do’ golf venues for driving record numbers to the game.


Within the press release, Formula 1 outlined a similar hope their racing simulation experience venues will make the sport “more accessible to a mass audience” and become a “go-to” for fans and non-fans alike – a mindset which similarly reflects the thinking behind their hugely successful docuseries, Drive to Survive.


As well as Fans, it could even have a positive impact on the talent pool entering the sport too. Lando Norris thinks “more and more” eSports racers will find themselves with the opportunity to move into the real thing. Cem Bolukbasi, who will race in F2 this year, is the first example of this.

Our Take: While there’s a lot of excitement over the developments of rightsholders building virtual locations in the metaverse, this is a reminder that there’s still plenty of opportunities to reach fans ‘IRL’.


F1 aren’t the only rightsholder thinking this way, either. Back in in October, UEFA signed a long-term global licensing deal with WallJam to produce a Champions League-themed soccer game venue inside the Westfield London shopping centre.


Ultimately, the key for any project like this – and which Formula 1 have done better than most in recent years – is to focus on how it will further increase accessibility and engagement.


📚 Further Reading

  • Callaway Is Now ‘Tech-Enabled Golf, Lifestyle Apparel and Entertainment Company’ - PYMNTS

  • TOCA Social, the 'Topgolf of soccer', brings location to the Design District - Dallas Business JouMixing Physical and Digital: F1 finding the right Formula

  • Flight Club confirms first social darts venue in Wales - Business Live

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

It was reported last week that South Africa could replace Italy in the Six Nations championship. The Six Nations have since sought to clarify that there are no such plans. However, that didn't stop a lot of opinions being shared in the time in between. For me, many of these had striking parallels with the Super League debate.

Firstly, there is the argument that the addition of South Africa makes for a stronger tournament, which undoubtably it does. However, this was frequently countered with rebuttals from fans which hinged on either;

  • Private equity greed (CVC has investments in both the Six Nations and South Africa), or

  • Damage to the development of rugby in Italy, as well as in the Southern Hemisphere - where South Africa currently compete in The Rugby Championship with New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina.

"The 6 Nations is a European competition, not a global one. The last thing we should be doing is filling the pockets of the Springboks (+ CVC etc) when we are trying to grow the game in Europe," argues Tom Colgan, an experienced media professional.

Colgan continues, that he "Much prefer(s) the concept of promotion and relegation - Georgia, who win the “Tier Two 6 Nations” year in year out, deserve a shot and Italy could do with dropping down to gain confidence from winning a lower tier tournament."

📚 Further Reading

  • The Six Nations' cosy club does need a shake-up, but South Africa are NOT the answer - Daily Mail

  • New Zealand Rugby and players union finalise Silver Lake deal worth initial NZ$200m - SportBusiness

  • RFU receives £90m cash boost as part of CVC's Six Nations stake - The Telegraph

 

WEEKLY ROUND UP

Media

  • The Wayne Rooney documentary is available to watch now, having been released by Amazon Prime on February 11, 2022. The Athletic(*) takes a closer look at 'Why Footballers are making documentaries about their lives'.

Expansion

  • One-time world champion Mario Andretti has revealed his son Michael has applied to the FIA to enter a Formula 1 team from the 2024 season. “His entry, Andretti Global, has the resources and checks every box. He is awaiting the FIA's determination."

NFTs

  • The Premier League has shortlisted four blockchain firms (Sorare, Candy Digital, Dapper Labs and ConsenSys) for its official NFT licence. The deal is set to dwarf the £15m-a-year NFT partnerships signed by the NFL and NBA.

Private Equity

  • Atalanta is set to be sold to New York based private equity fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, reports said Friday without denials from the Bergamo-based Serie A club. Sources said a preliminary deal had been reached to sell 85% of the club for around 350 million euros.

Athlete Endorsements

  • Eileen Gu, the American-born skier who won a gold medal for her mother’s homeland China, reportedly raked in tens of million dollars in Chinese endorsement deals — even before her considerable success at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

Broadcasting

  • Buzzer, the new mobile platform delivering short-form access to the best moments in live sports, has announced a new partnership with leading global sports streamer DAZN, which will kick off with live boxing content.

 

Quick ask... It takes me hours each week to put these newsletters together so if you enjoy them, it would be amazing if you could subscribe and/ or share them with friends and colleagues. Thank you!