The AST wrap-up; your weekly edition of sports business news

It’s the end of the week, and you know what that means, it’s time for the AST wrap-up! This week, SportsProMedia have officially finalised their 50 Most Marketable sports properties, brands and athletes for the year. A new gaming giant is growing across the Chinese esports landscape; the UFC could welcome back fans, EE revolutionise the home-watching experience for BT Sports consumers, and Disney undergo a total restructure.

The FIFA World Cup is officially the most marketable sports property of 2020

The France National football team winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup

The UK-based media company, SportsProMedia, released their ground-breaking directory of the 50 Most Marketable (50MM) global sports properties of 2020, which saw the quadrennial football tournament listed in the no.1 spot. The Olympic games, NBA, Real Madrid and the Uefa Champions League were close to follow after the World Cup.

Universal sponsorship currency, SponsorPulse, were responsible for carrying out a methodology to determine the final results for SportsProMedia’s 50MM listings. Over 30,000 people per month across 18 of the worlds largest sports markets were utilised in the study to accurately measure peoples behaviours, attitudes and emotions towards the global sports properties. The seven key metrics that define the outcomes on the list include engagement, intensity, momentum, passion, excitement, purchase consideration, and favourability.

SportsProMedia also carried out a sports marketing study for both sports brands (powered by Hookit’s SportGraph) and athletes (powered by Neilson). International sponsor giants Nike, Emirates Airlines and Adidas made the top three in chronological order as the most marketable brands alongside Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lebron James being listed as the most marketable athletes.

Through the power, investment and detail within data-driven technology, the sports industry has never been exploited to such terrific opportunities to investigate and benefit from the true value of sports marketing.

A new Chinese gaming giant is on the uprise

Snapshot of the Blizzcon convention

Video game publisher Huya has penned a stock-for-stock merger deal with streaming service DouYu to establish a live online gaming streaming giant in China. The agreement will forsee DouYu receiving 0.730 US depositary shares of Huya, which will see the deal close in the first half of 2021. According to the multi-sector firm, Bloomberg, this collaboration will develop an entity withholding a market value of $11bn+.

The partnership also involves multinational tech firm, Tencent, as they own 37% of Huya and 38% of DouYu. Tencent will hone their efforts towards live stream gaming underneath the Penguin esports brand to DouYu.

Huya is the largest live streaming platform in China accumulating 168.5m active users in Q2 of 2020, whereas DouYu acquired 165.3m in the same Q. This venture will spark a new wave of competition in the Chinese gaming scene, through an innovative collaboration that will fire up esports’ prominence across the traditional sports sector.

Could we see spectators return to The UFC?

Snapshot of fan attendance at a UFC event

UFC fans potentially have lots to be excited for considering Abu Dhabi’s Departure of Culture & Tourism’s marketing director, Saeed al Saeed has entertained a possibility for UFC supporters attending events at Fight Island. Fight Island is a lockdown project initiated by The UFC’s President Dana White to continue combat sports major tournament behind-closed-doors at Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates.

The UFC has produced some outstanding results throughout the pandemic. Including UFC251 yielding 1.3m PPV buys which saw Nigeria’s Usman remain victorious against US competitor Masvidal, The US fighter and Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov are listed in the 50 Most Marketable Athlete’s of 2020 alongside The UFC being recorded as the 40th most marketable sports property this year.

Bringing fans back will be instrumental in building on The UFC’s commercial growth in this unprecedented period. Particularly as the first event fans could return to would be Khabib’s bout against US lightweight Justin Gaethje while The Notorious Conor McGregor is entertaining his supposedly accepted bout against Dustin Poirier to be held at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

EE’s new AR initiative modernises the matchday experience through the BT Sport app

Stock image of lady taking a picture at a football match

UK mobile network EE announces ‘matchday experience’, an AR platform offering consumers an innovative in-stadium experience through the BT Sport app. The two parties have collaborated to form a watch together feature, allowing fans from different locations to tune into watching an event together.

Sports fans can access 360-degree viewing options through a ‘pinch and zoom’ feature, leaving supporters in control about where they view the game. The medium will also obtain a ‘manager mode’ element, again providing consumers with a unique experience to identify live stats such as distance covered and average speed. The fan engagement only gets stronger with the apps ‘stadium experience’ component, which provides fans with the opportunity to explore their favourite team’s dugout, dressing rooms, trophy rooms and other behind-the-scenes areas. 

BT Sport and EE have adopted these functions from other successful mediums. The watch together feature is similar to Netflix Party and Disney’s Group Watch feature, which has proven sufficient to fill in the void of limited socialising during lockdown. The 360 view feature wouldn’t have been possible without global streaming software Tiledmedia who are responsible for the watch together and ‘pinch and view’ features. 5G technology has been a significant driver for BT Sport and EE to revolutionise modern fan engagement in sport. 

Disney announces radical restructuring plans to centralise content distribution

Image of Disneyland

The US media giant will be dramatically scaling its streaming products from experiencing an enormous rise in traffic during the coronavirus. Over the last 12 months, Disney’s new Over-The-Top streaming service, Disney+, has acquired over 57m consumers with 33.5m subscribing since Q2 this year. Disney also owns ESPN+ which has accumulated 600,000 new subscribers in three months during Q2 of 2020, an imposing development considering the absence of sport. US on-demand service, Hulu, also owned by Disney, has seen 2m more subscribers sign up to the platform during the same period.

The restructure will involve the initiation of a new media and entertainment distribution group which will be accountable for monetisation of ad-sales and content distribution of Disney’s streaming services. Disney’s former president of consumer products, gaming and publishing, Kareem Daniel, will oversee this new initiative. This then leaves chairman of direct-to-consumer (DTC) and international division, Rebecca Campbell, to report to Daniel regarding Disney’s core services: Disney+, Hulu+ and ESPN+.


That’s a wrap! Do you agree with the FIFA World Cup being listed as the most marketable sports property this year? How will Huya and DouYu’s stock-for-stock merger change the Chinese esports landscape? Would you entertain fans returning to The UFC? How soon until other sports broadcasters begin to imitate and build on BT Sports x EE’s AR incentive? And, what impact will Disney’s restructuring have on their commercial growth?

Published by Ashwyn Lall

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

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