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2020 in the business of sport? Consider this A to Z thread of things to keep an eye on as your cheat sheet for a new year. #sportsbiz
A - ATP Cup: Men’s #tennis has yet another team event joining its cluttered calendar to sit alongside the Davis Cup and Laver Cup, as the politics of the sport play out in public. The ATP’s new management have lots to do - hopefully it includes developing a mixed team tournament.
B - Budapest: Quietly and confidently emerging as Europe’s latest major events host, with a trio of @EURO2020 games, the expanded @FedCup finals in April and the start of May’s @giroditalia making this a big year. An Olympic host in the 2030s?
C - CVC in rugby (& other private equity investments in sport): Be it Bruin or Bridgepoint, Silver Lake or Softbank, watch for more elite rights holders selling stakes in their most prized properties to fuel a further wave of growth. Sport and big business ever more intertwined.
D - #Disney (and co): Anyone interested in viewing habits and consumption patterns should be carefully watching the so-called US #streaming wars. All the major players are having a crack. There’ll be winners & losers and plenty of insights for sport to glean in the months ahead.
E - #Euro2020: Get set for a sprawling, one-off pan-European tournament, played across 12 cities. Messy logistically and challenging for fans, broadcasters and sponsors, but as a largely free-to-air television spectacle it’s guaranteed to be one of the biggest events of the year.
F - FAANGS: How #Facebook, #Apple, #Amazon, #Netflix and #Google interact - or continue to interact - with sport will be a major theme of the next decade and more. Each big beast has its own model and one or two even have a proper sports strategy, but none of them can be ignored.
G - Gambling: The piecemeal US approach to legalising sports betting continues with some 20 states having so far given the green light. Meanwhile in the UK, continuing concerns about the volume of sports #betting sponsorship and advertising - vital revenues but at what cost?
H - Hundred (The): Cricket’s latest new format and start-up tournament is the brainchild of the @ECB_cricket and lots of focus groups, and sees the return of live cricket to free-to-air TV in the UK after 15 years. Will it work for any or all of the ECB, the BBC and the sport?
I - Inter Miami CF (and Nashville SC): The 25th season of @MLS begins in February with David Beckham’s @InterMiamiCF, and @NashvilleSC joining the league. As the 2026 men’s World Cup begins to loom, watch for Beckham to sprinkle some soccer stardust in the US for a second time.
J - Jim Ratcliffe: Britain’s richest man has got the taste for sport, through @INEOS. With cycling’s dominant squad, Sir Ben Ainslie’s sailing team and Ligue 1 club Nice already in his portfolio, 2020 will see an intriguing link-up with the Mercedes F1 team begin. What next?
K - Karate: One of five new sports on the #Tokyo2020 Olympic programme, alongside climbing, surfing, baseball/softball and skateboarding. You’ll need to know your Kumite from your Kata come July. Watch out for new stars emerging and opportunistic brands jumping on the bandwagon.
L - Liverpool’s title: They surely can’t lose it from here? The European champions and World Club champions are on the verge of a first English title since 1990. It’ll be emotional whatever happens. Also worth noting: May’s Champions League final is in Istanbul... #LFC
M - McLaren: After a terrible decade, @McLarenGroup is gradually rising again in #F1. More widely, under CEO Zak Brown it is diversifying in fascinating ways. In 2020, it’s launching an Indycar team & will play a more active role in cycling’s @Bahrain_Merida squad. One to watch.
N - New #NFL stadiums: Standby for two stunning (and stunningly expensive) new football arenas, due to open this summer: Stan Kroenke’s baby, @SoFiStadium in Los Angeles (also set to be a major 2028 Olympic venue), and @AllegiantStadm, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
O - Originals: Fans are thirsty for them and broadcasters, teams, leagues and myriad content houses are responding to that demand. Expect more sports films, behind-the-scenes docs and long-form storytelling in 2020 - with more created specifically to try and draw in new fans.
P - Paralympics: The 16th @Paralympics summer Games begin in August and they promise to be the biggest and best yet, with more live broadcasting hours to be hoovered up by the likes of @C4Paralympics in the UK. Badminton and taekwondo are the new sports this time round in Tokyo.
Q - Quality/Quantity: One for in-house media and content teams to consider ever more carefully. With so many platforms to service and only so many hours in the day, how much is too much and how much simply becomes white noise? #FanEngagement #smsports
R - Ryder Cup: Sport’s best format is back in September. The US are at home, seeking to regain honours. @stevestricker v @padraig_h are captains, while the likely presence of Tiger Woods is another tasty ingredient in what tends to be a dream week for sponsors, media & viewers.
S - Saudi Arabia: Using global sport for soft power purposes is nothing new, but it’s rarely as controversial. Saudi’s investments in big-time boxing, Formula E and mega-facilities like Qiddiya are part of a long-term plan. In 2020, money will talk but the criticism will be loud.
T - #Tokyo2020: Could have an A-Z of its own (there’s an idea!) but this summer watch out for Japan’s national moment, the heat, Alibaba (the cloud) and Intel (esports/VR) using the Olympic platform as a showcase & Discovery’s first summer Games as Europe’s #Olympics broadcaster.
U - Using your influence: In tumultuous political times and with societal issues like racism, LBGT+ rights & the environment increasingly front and centre, athletes will be encouraged to speak up and out. Picking the moment, judging the mood & getting the tone right will be key.
V - VAR: Charitably, it’s still a work in progress. More widely, the extent to which #technology impinges on the on-field action will be hotly debated, but with whole mini-industries quickly growing up around the tech solutions, the cat is already well out of the bag. #VAR
W - World heavyweight: Fury and Wilder’s rematch is set for February, Anthony Joshua’s back in the game and lying in wait - it should be a box office year for the top division and by extension Eddie Hearn, DAZN, ESPN, Sky, Frank Warren & the rest of #boxing’s cast of characters.
X - #XFL: Vince McMahon has revived the @xfl2020 with a first 8-team, 10-game season set to start once the dust settles on the Super Bowl. The aim is to be a quicker, easier-to-follow #NFL. This spring will offer the first clues as to whether this latest potential rival has legs.
Y - YouTube boxers (and other stunts): The set-piece sports event is on the rise, be it @LoganPaul v @KSIOlajidebt, mic’d up golfers or the INEOS 1:59 Challenge. Get set for more celebrity-sport-entertainment mash-ups produced, promoted and sold as legitimate sports events.
Z - Zandvoort: Home of the revived Dutch Grand Prix, one of two new #F1 races in 2020. The other is a street race in Hanoi, as top-level motorsport arrives in Vietnam for the first time in a year when @LewisHamilton could well match Michael Schumacher’s record 7 championships.
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