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Amazon nearing deal for U.K. UCL rights....BBC facing complaints following decision to cut away from Andy Murray’s latest match.....Alpine F1 launches program to include more female drivers

Amazon close to securing UCL rights in the U.K.

Amazon is close to securing a "groundbreaking deal" to broadcast live Champions League soccer in the UK from '24, with highlights returning to terrestrial TV "for the first time in nearly a decade in a midweek BBC Match of Day show." Amazon is understood to be "set to split the UK rights with existing holder BT Sport" in a new deal with UEFA running from '24 until '27. BT, which has aired the Champions League since '15 after beating the then joint holders Sky and ITV with a blockbuster bid, paid £1.2B at the last auction for exclusive rights until '24. UEFA is understood to have secured an increase on the total value of the rights by £250-£300M, thanks to bringing in more partner broadcasters, with BT understood not to have increased its financial commitment but secured more games. The deal, which also includes Europa League and Europa Conference League games, also reflects the expansion of the Champions League to involve 36 clubs each playing eight group stage matches from '24. For Amazon, the rights deal is the "biggest it has struck in the UK and cements its position as a major player in live sports broadcasting" (London GUARDIAN, 6/30).

BBC spark fury for cutting Andy Murray's match

The BBC was facing a string of complaints from angry viewers on Wednesday night following a terrestrial blackout of the start of Andy Murray’s latest Wimbledon match. Those tuning in to BBC1 to watch Murray’s second-round showdown with John Isner were told coverage of the build-up "was ending to make way for the Six O'Clock News" and that they should switch to iPlayer to see the opening exchanges. That was after the broadcaster chose to stick with the climax of British number one Cameron Norrie’s five-set victory over Jaume Munar over on BBC2, only switching to Murray’s match after that had finished. It meant terrestrial viewers missed the start of the latter contest, while those tuning in to iPlayer "were left exasperated by the chopping and changing." Even BBC anchor Sue Barker was taken aback, exclaiming: "I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Andy Murray is going to be on the iPlayer." Complaints were quick to follow on social media, with users pointing out it was "not the first time they had cause to moan" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/29).

Alpine F1 pushing for female drivers in new program

Alpine F1 team have launched a new program aimed at tripling the number of women working for its F1 team, which "could include a female driver within eight years." The ‘Rac(H)er’ initiative plans to create equal opportunities for all genders, a development program with "dedicated financial means" to ensure a woman competes consistently in F1, and a fund to finance female talent within motorsport.

The initiative will kick off with investment in local female-focused science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. After that, Alpine will offer additional support through a mentoring program in all departments of the company to support women in their chosen career. The aim for the Alpine company is to have women make up 30 per cent of its workforce within five years. This commitment will begin with recruiting an equal amount of male and female trainees and graduates, effective immediately (MOTORSPORT, 6/30).

According to Alpine, its F1 team’s workforce being only ten per cent female is an average found across the motorsport industry. In 72 years of F1 racing, only six out of 885 drivers have been women. The last woman to compete in the series was Giovanna Amati in '92 (BBC, 6/30).

Barca confirms 10% sale of TV rights to Sixth Street

Barcelona has officially agreed to sell a 10% stake in its LaLiga TV rights for the next 25 years to U.S. private equity group Sixth Street for €207.5M ($215.84M) as the club looks to improve its financial situation, the club announced on Thursday. Barcelona members agreed earlier this month to sell up to 25% of its LaLiga TV rights to "one or more investors" (REUTERS, 6/30). The members also agreed to sell 49.9% of the Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) arm of the club, in order to raise capital to balance the books for the '21-22 season.The club said they hoped to make €600M ($629M) from both arrangements, in order to turn a profit and allow them to “make Barca a competitive team." Barcelona needed capital by the end of June 30 because that represents the end of their financial year, the results of which will determine the salary cap that LaLiga will allow them a month later (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/30).

Seven seeking to end Cricket Australia rights deal

Channel Seven is "seeking a court declaration" to allow them to terminate a multimillion dollar Test cricket and Big Bash League broadcasting rights deal with Cricket Australia. Cricket Australia reacted with astonishment to the move from its broadcast partner on Thursday and "vowed to vigorously defend its position." Seven West Media Ltd has filed court proceedings in the federal court of Australia in relation to “multiple quality and standard breaches by CA" of the existing A$450M ($310M) agreement which had resulted in diminished promotional opportunities and weaker commercial returns for the media company. It is understood the court proceedings will "start early next year and the upcoming summer of cricket is unlikely to be affected," with Seven intent on performing its obligations in terms of broadcasting a busy summer of Test and BBL cricket. There are two summers remaining on the six-year deal but it is understood" that the BBL is the sticking point for Seven," after the past two seasons were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic (London GUARDIAN, 6/30). 

Esports roundup: Guild Esports reports $1.33M in profit

By Jason Wilson
  • British esports organization Guild Esports reported its earnings today for the six months period ended March 31. The LSE-listed company generated revenues of $1.33M driven by signing its largest sponsorship deal to date, a three-year $5.45M deal with crypto exchange Bitstamp.
  • Due to the organization’s administrative expenses exceeding $6.8M, Guild generated a loss before taxation of $6M during the period.
  • Tencent is releasing League of Legends Esports Manager for a July beta test in China.
  • Galaxy Racer named Syed Ibn-E-Ali as its CFO for Southeast Asia. Ali has 14 years of experience in financial administration and operations, most recently as head of finance for Streamline Media Group.
  • Brazilian streamer Alexander “Gaules” Borba and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive had huge months on Twitch.

Short Takes

Chelsea's new owners have "commissioned an investigation into accusations of a toxic culture of bullying within their marketing team” after it emerged that former Head of Content & Production Richard Bignell "took his own life." The club has appointed an external review team following the revelation. See more in today's SBJ Daily.

League One side Sunderland has announced that U.K.-based financial trading and sports betting firm Spreadex has agreed to a three-year partnership to become the club's new principal partner ahead of the '22-23 season (CHRONICLE LIVE, 6/30).

F1’s podium celebrations will continue to feature Italian sparkling wine Ferrari Trento until at least the end of '25, following a two-year contract extension (MOTORSPORT, 6/29).

Former Brazilian F1 champion Nelson Piquet has been banned from Silverstone days before the British GP after making an "apparent racist remark" about Lewis Hamilton (London EXPRESS, 6/30).

German fashion brand Hugo Boss has made a return to F1 after a five-year absence by striking a partnership with the Aston Martin F1 team. The deal, initially running until '25, will see Boss branding on the F1 cars with "immediate effect" and the company providing team apparel from '23 (REUTERS, 6/30).

Chinese esports organization Oh My God (OMG) announced today on Weibo that CEO Xiaowen Shan has resigned. The organization has not announced the replacement for her position yet, and it did not disclose the reason behind her resignation (ESPORTS OBSERVER, 6/30).

Tencent Esports announced its plans Tuesday for the Tencent Global Esports Summit, which will take place in the Hangzhou International Expo Center in Zhejiang, China, from July 26-27. Tencent said the summit will also be in conjunction with Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) and the China Esports Working Council (ESPORTS OBSERVER, 6/30).

What They're Saying

“I’ve spent a lot of time with Nelson. More than the average person in general and he’s definitely not a racist" -- F1 driver Max Verstappen, over former world champion Nelson Piquet's comments against Lewis Hamilton (London GUARDIAN, 6/30).

"The rationale behind the start being brought forward seems reasonable but we can’t help but feel the impact on fans attending the match hasn’t been fully considered" -- Cricket Supporters’ Association CEO Becky Fairlie-Clarke, on the ECB changing the start time for the India fifth Test in order to gain more exposure with Asian broadcasters (London TELEGRAPH, 6/29).

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