The 2016 sports industry A-Z (part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of my sports industry A-Z, a soon-to-be essential bit of kit as you navigate the twists, turns and potholes of the global business of sport in 2016, a year of European football championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Ryder Cup, as well as all the usual calendar regulars. If you missed part 1, covering letters A to M, it’s on a nearby page and can be accessed here. And below you’ll find N-Z. Let’s resume:

New sponsorship structures

It’ll not only be farewell to Barclays as title sponsor of the Premier League in May but farewell to title sponsorship of the Premier League. The league is adopting a new partnership model, which will allow it to build the Premier League brand further internationally and opens up the potentially lucrative banking category for clubs.

Olympic Channel

There’s no definitive word on when the IOC’s much-vaunted Olympic Channel will launch but Rio 2016 seems an obvious diary date. Details on content and distribution are still sketchy, but it will be another interesting test of the OTT model many rights-holders around the world are testing and evaluating. It’ll also be well worth watching how the IOC integrates its TOP partners into the channel and what, if any, live sports rights it chooses to snaffle up.


Listen up, everyone’s doing them, they’re a great way to delve deeper into topics and there’ll be more (including several with a distinctly sports industry bent) of them in 2016.


Six years to the most famous Fifa World Cup yet to be played and although largely overshadowed by football’s political whirlwind in recent months, the nuts and bolts of how a (European) winter World Cup will actually work in practice (and who sorts out the scheduling mess it may well leave behind) still needs to be fully ironed out. It’s also about this time in a World Cup cycle that the hosts should be getting a local sponsorship programme up and running – in the current climate, who’ll move first and be part of Fifa’s new regional (as opposed to the previous national) sponsorship model?


Its Fifa World Cup now just over two years away, Russia is in the midst of its major sports event hosting decade. But all that risks being overshadowed by revelations of state-sponsored doping, particularly if the beleaguered IAAF does elect to ban Russian athletes from Rio 2016. Meanwhile, the crisis-hit IAAF and new president Lord Sebastian Coe are braced for Dick Pound’s latest revelations about doping and corruption within athletics, to be delivered on 14th January.

Sprint Cup

Pinning down the actual value of Sprint’s deal to title sponsor Nascar’s top-tier championship is tricky, but, suffice to say, it involved an enormous sum of money changing hands. But 2016 will be Sprint’s last year with its name on the Cup. Nascar have had over a year’s notice of the teleco’s decision to end its deal but have yet to announce a new partner for 2017; when it happens, presumably sometime in 2016, it is very likely to again be one of sport’s largest sponsorships.

Tiger Woods

Often injured, sometimes disgraced, it’s been a heck of a few years for Woods. His selection as one of Davis Love III’s vice-captain’s for September’s Ryder Cup adds another intriguing dynamic to one of sport’s best events, but may also provide a fascinating glimpse into Tiger’s future as an ex-professional golfer. He’ll certainly get his fair share of camera time at Hazeltine.

Union expansion

After a successful 2015 Rugby World Cup, rugby has an Olympics to look forward to in 2016. But while sevens will be the focus in Rio, the 15-a-side game will also be expanding its horizons over the next few months: in Asia, the Sunwolves Super Rugby franchise will make its debut, with games due to be staged in Japan and Singapore, while in March the Aviva Premiership will stage a competitive game in New York – London Irish v Saracens at Red Bull Arena – for the first time.

Vendée Globe 

In sailing, the America’s Cup World Series regattas will continue to set the scene ahead of the real deal in 2017 but the latest Vendee Globe – a quadrennial solo, non-stop round-the-world race – deserves top billing. Due to begin in November, it will be the eighth edition and the first under the Sir Keith Mills’ Ocean Masters commercial umbrella. That should mean a greater international profile for a race previously dominated, commercially and in sporting terms, by France.

West Ham’s new home

It may have a new name by August when West Ham move in, but the Olympic Stadium as Premier League team home will be another piece completed in the London 2012 legacy puzzle – for better or worse.

Xavier Gonzalez

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has high hopes for the Rio Games after the huge successes it enjoyed at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Gonzalez, IPC chief executive, has been one of the key figures in developing the Rio Paralympic gameplan. Expect another record-breaker.

Yahoo! YouTube etc.

As rights-holders around the world are busy carving out additional digital rights packages to either sell on or distribute via their own channels, will 2016 be the year when a major league sells one of its broadcast rights packages to a major digital player? The NFL, currently in the market with its Thursday Night Football package, has closely examined the results of its October live streaming trial with Yahoo, and may now feel it’s the right time to go the whole hog.

Zones (time)

Rio 2016 will be the focal point of the sporting year and all the indications are that it may a little chaotic, perhaps even a little rough around the edges, on the ground. (Get set for the early part of the year to be dominated by ‘race against time’ headlines and concerns over everything from Brazil’s economy, to security, corruption, whether Rio’s infrastructure will cope and maybe even the weather). For those watching at home, however, Rio is almost certain to look sensational (with the exception perhaps of its horribly polluted coastline). And with the Games taking place in a US-friendly timezone, it’s a safe bet that NBC will be recording record ratings and advertising income – good for the Olympic movement, many of its partners and for those making the case that Los Angeles should stage the 2024 Games.

To return to part 1, which covers A-M, click here


Twitter: @davidcushnan


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