Huya, a leading Chinese live-streaming platform that specialises in esports content, agreed to buy fellow live-streaming platform Douyu in a stock-for-stock merger deal that will create a Chinese gaming-streaming giant with a market value of more than $11 billion. The merger, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, brings together China’s two largest video game live-streaming platforms with a combined 300 million users, more than 80 per cent market share in the country. Tencent will hold 67.5 per cent of the merged business’s voting shares.
Rugby Australia, the national governing body for rugby union, was dealt another financial blow after major sponsor Qantas, the Australian airline, ended its 30-year association with the code, in a cost-cutting measure. Qantas also ended its cash sponsorship deals with Cricket Australia and soccer’s Football Federation Australia in favour of 'payment in-kind' (PIK) support, including free flights and marketing, for the next 12 months. RA turned down the PIK offer in favour of attracting a paying sponsor.
Video streaming giant YouTube attracted 1.7 million viewers for its first live broadcast of a Formula 1 race, the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany on 11 October. The race was streamed live and free-to-air on the F1 YouTube channel as a social media exclusive in the home market, plus Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, with 31 per cent of the viewers being under 25 and 68 per cent under 35. The grand prix was watched across multiple devices with 33 per cent viewing on mobile phones and 30 per cent on connected TVs.
Société Générale, the France-based international bank, signed up as the first worldwide partner of the 2023 Rugby World Cup on home soil. Société Générale was one of six worldwide partners on board for the 2019 tournament in Japan. Indeed it has been in that category since 2011 and has been a partner of the Rugby World Cup since 1991. The sponsorship deal was brokered by the IMG agency, which has a contract with World Rugby to secure worldwide partners for France 2023.
National network Fox drew an average of under 10 million viewers for this year’s World Series, a record low for the Major League Baseball showpiece. The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 win to secure their first title in 32 years. Fox averaged 9.8 million viewers, a 5.2 rating and 12 per cent share, well down on the previous low of 12.7 million viewers, a 7.6 rating and 12 per cent share for the San Francisco Giants’ 4-0 sweep of the Detroit Tigers in 2012. The fall in ratings for the World Series follows similar declines for the NBA and NHL finals, with viewing figures thought to have been impacted by delays to the seasons caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and competition from the start of the NFL season and coverage of the US presidential election campaign.
DAZN's much-anticipated global streaming service went live on 1 December in over 200 countries, priced at just £1.99 or €1.99 per month. In some markets, it will cost even less. The world heavyweight title fight between Britain’s Anthony Joshua and Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev on 12 December is the headline act for the first month, albeit will not be available in DAZN’s home market of the UK due to an existing rights deal with Sky. DAZN will add more rights throughout the course of 2021, while aside from the two aforementioned live boxing bouts, there will be a large archive of classic fights, athlete features and original programming on the global offering. The global OTT offering was to go live at the end of April, but the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent impact on the company's business delayed proceedings.
The Argentine Football Association cancelled the broadcasting rights agreement with pay-television operator Fox Sports for the country’s top-tier soccer league. The decision was taken on the grounds that Fox had not provided sufficient notice of its absorption by Walt Disney-owned ESPN, but Fox vowed to take legal action. Fox and another US-backed company Turner have shared rights to the Superliga in a five-year, 17.5 billion pesos ($226 million) agreement that came into effect in 2017-18, but the competition was replaced by the new Liga Profesional de Futbol when soccer resumed in late October, after a seven-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Tennis Federation renamed the Fed Cup, the women's national teams’ tennis competition, the Billie Jean King Cup after the legend of the sport, who founded the Women's Tennis Association. The Fed Cup has been revamped and the new-look competition was due to debut in Budapest in April, but was postponed by 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic. It means the 12-nation tournament will now launch in the Hungarian capital with a new name next year, the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas.
A consortium of private equity firms, headlined by CVC Capital Partners, were selected by Lega Serie A as the preferred partner on new a company that will manage the Italian soccer league's broadcasting rights. The CVC consortium, also involving Advent and FSI, which would take a 10 per cent stake in the media company, is valued at €1.625 billion. Serie A’s present three-year domestic rights agreement with pay-TV's Sky and OTT platform DAZN, worth €973 million per season, expire at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
RDA, the UK-based sports media rights agency, will be responsible for international distribution of the British & Irish Lions’ tour in 2021. It marks the first time that an agency has been commissioned to market media rights on behalf of the representative team, with the mandate covering Europe (excluding the UK, Ireland and France), Canada, Japan, Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, Middle East and North Africa and inflight and cruise ship broadcasts. The Lions will pay three test matches and five other tour games on their visit to South Africa next July and August.