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Why are investing in sponsorship?

Having announced deals with the UFC and Formula 1 in the past two weeks, today’s newsletter looks at why the world of sports is so attractive for the popular cryptocurrency exchange.

Photo Source: FanSided
A week after announcing a blockbuster deal with Formula 1, was at it again, signing a historic deal with the UFC, estimated to be worth $175m over the next 10 years. However, it would seem more announcements could be imminent, as CMO Steve Kalifowitz stated the brand was “still just getting started”. 
This sentiment was also echoed by co-founder and CEO, Kris Marszalek, who joined Cheddar News to discuss why the world of sports is so attractive for the cryptocurrency exchange.
For Marszalek, the investment in sports sponsorship is all about brand awareness. “Our mission as a company is ‘taking cryptocurrency mainstream’ and there is no better way to make sure you’re in front of billions of people than going through sport.” 
For example, the UFC and Formula 1 have around 625 and 400 million fans, respectively. This gives brand visibility to 1 billion fans. While Marszalek likely needs to account for a greater audience overlap, this is still huge, especially given that the entire cryptocurrency industry today has only 150m users!
In his interview, he did also note that “some of these sports have a very natural overlap between the cryptocurrency core user base and the fans of the sport.” 
This is well evidenced through the activation of many of their primary sponsorship deals, such as with Aston Martin Cognizant F1, where NFTs were launched exclusively on the NFT platform. As such, sponsorship provides a unique opportunity to not only serve the core user base, but also engage with them more directly.

It's a model we could expect other cryptocurrency exchanges to follow, especially as they launch their own NFT platforms, too. 

P.S. Wondering where's next deal might be? Well, Formula 1’s press release cited’s ambitious pledge to become carbon negative within 18 months... With sustainability a core issue for many consumers, this could be an area in which we see their future partnerships focus. 

Photo Source: GIPHY/ Barstool
In college athletics, July 1st marked the start of something of a free-for-all. In a monumental shift for the NCAA, athletes can now begin to accept endorsements for the use of their name, image and likeness while still competing for their university.

For Dave Portnoy, CEO of Barstool Sports, he gave the decision little thought at first. That was, until he was approached by Adelaide Halverson, a volleyball player at Jacksonville State, who reached out to him via social media. 

As he explains in an instagram video, this lead to the creation of “Barstool Athletics Inc”, a company that he "just made up in my head right there on live stream," before exclaiming that, "We may become the most powerful agency in the world.” 

He went on to say that, “If you play Division I sports and you blink at me, we will sign you.”

Since then, over 100,000 athletes across the country have signed up to become Barstool Athletes. 

Portnoy has assured athletes that Barstool is not asking for signed contracts or exclusivity, but there are few specifics beyond that. Referring to Barstool Athletics as an "NCAA marketing firm", the objective, he claims, is to help athletes amplify their own brands.

While this doesn’t come without its problems, Portnoy could well have put talent agencies on red alert. There is a real chance that this move could signal a shift towards a more media-led agency future. Rather than signing with traditional agencies, who rely upon building an athletes audience, Barstool Athletics already has an audience, which it is then able to lend out to its athletes. Furthermore, the cost of acquisition for Barstool Athletics? Pizza and free merch.

What do you think? Let me know by replying to this email. 
Here's a few of the top articles that I've come across this week. I hope you enjoy!
Photo Source: Hindustan Times
Governance and Finance
  • The IPL plans to expand to 10 teams from 2022, generating an extra $100m for the BCCI.
  • Japan's Olympic minister has confirmed that there will be no fans allowed at Tokyo 2020. 
  • Saudi Arabia's Sports Minister has launched "NAFES", an online platform designed to encourage foreign investment into local clubs and facilities.
Photo Source: Visionhaus/ Getty Images
Sponsorship and Marketing
  • Fan engagement platform,, announces partnership with Boston Celtics, and is set to become Inter Milan front-of-shirt sponsor
  • SailGP has announced a partnership with Beyond Meat that aims to highlight the event's sustainability credentials, as well as cater to fans.
  • ESPN is now the most followed sports brand on TikTok with 17.4m followers.
Photo Source: Formula E
Broadcast and Media
  • Formula E live race viewership this season has grown by 125% across key markets, including UK, France, Italy, Germany, and Brazil.
  • A new docuseries following Naomi Osaka as she explores her cultural roots and navigates her multifaceted identity, is coming to Netflix soon.
  • The NFL and Twitter extended and expanded their media partnership to include season-long content for Spaces, Twitter’s live audio platform.
Photo Source: Evening Standard
Introducing Sports Pundit Explains... Sponsorship with Andy Marston and Murray Barnett. The series aims to deep-dive into the industry.

In Episode 2, Andy and Murray are joined by Tim Ellerton, Commercial Director at the British Olympic Association, to discuss his move from brand to rights holder side and how he views the sponsor protections around the Olympic Games.

Available on all (good) podcast platforms now. Simply search 'Sports Pundit Explains...

For the latest edition of the Sports Pundit Networking Series, I caught up with Founder & CEO at Elevate Sports, Phil Cotton. Phil works across a wide spectrum from athlete representation, to brand strategy, content creation, and innovation.

Quick ask. It takes me hours each week to put these newsletters together so if you enjoyed this edition, it would mean a lot to me if you could share on social or forward to friends and colleagues! Thank you. 

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