Sportel America – Tuesday’s Miami wrap-up

17 March 2015 | Posted in SportsPro Blog | By David Cushnan | Contact the author

Sportel America – Tuesday’s Miami wrap-up

Like all major US metropolises, Miami has its own sports ecosystem, with the local football, baseball, hockey and basketball teams all vying for local attention alongside the major national and international sports topics of the day.


Not unexpectedly, Tuesday morning’s Miami Herald went big on the Heat’s victory over LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers the night before, a win that has put the team in position for the NBA play-offs. The Florida Panthers ice hockey team, meanwhile, were due to continue their own quest for an NHL play-off berth on Tuesday evening, hosting the Montreal Canadiens. Baseball’s Florida Marlins, whose Marlins Park looms large on the drive from airport to downtown, are spring training upstate, while football’s Dolphins are, like the rest of the National Football League (NFL), preparing for April’s Draft.


Sportel America, taking place in the ballroom of the JW Marriott Marquis hotel this week, seems curiously detached from the day-to-day sporting landscape of the city in which it is being hosted. Sportel organisers, however, have drawn a crowd; the usual subjects from the world of sports broadcasting are here, as are international exhibitors including Infront Sports & Media, MP & Silva, B4 Capital, Matchroom Sport and Eurovision, plus a smattering of North and Latin American executives not usually seen at the main annual Sportel event in Monaco each autumn. Despite suggestions there may have been more sellers in the room than buyers on Tuesday, there was a strong turnout for day one of the market.


Watch out 


Amongst the federations present and visible in Miami, it was the Fédération Équestre Internationale and its longstanding partner Longines, which had Tuesday’s most concrete announcement. The organisation has announced plans for a new North American League, beginning in August, which will take in 14 stops across the United States, Canada and Mexico, and offer 14 of the 48 available qualification slots for the Longines FEI World Cup Final, which will be staged in Gothenburg in 2016.


John Madden – not that one; he is the FEI’s first vice president – called it a “momentous moment” for the sport, while a sprinkle of stardust was provided by Jessica Springsteen, daughter of The Boss, who is currently ranked 44th on the Longines world rankings.


The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League was launched at Sportel on Tuesday, with the help of Jessica Springsteen (above, left), daughter of The Boss.


The FEI is still looking for a broadcast partner for the series, hence its decision to launch at Sportel, but offered the fact that 25 cities applied for the 14 slots as evidence of the interest in equestrian sports on the continent. There was certainly plenty of enthusiasm amongst those present for dropping business cards into the FEI’s prize draw bowl, which may or may not have had something to do with the shiny and no doubt expensive Longines timepiece on offer to the lucky winner.


“Grossly undervalued”


The announcement was made last week, but executives form MP & Silva and the NFL were on hand in Miami on Tuesday morning to add at least some meat to the bones of the deal which will see the agency sell the league’s rights in 42 European territories over the next five years.


Daniel Cohen, MP & Silva’s senior vice president of the Americas, believes there are a “ton of opportunities that are undervalued across Europe right now”, adding: “France, Spain are key markets where the NFL has already done a terrific job to be. But some of these other countries, like Italy – you see a growing fanbase there; there are particular countries that we’ve worked really closely with the NFL to identify as markets that are grossly undervalued and where we think we can help elevate the NFL.”


Waller on Brazil – and Sunday mornings at Starbucks


In what turned into an overview of the NFL’s efforts at globalisation, it was noticeable that while Mark Waller, the league’s British former chief marketing officer who now heads up its international business, name-checked all the obvious NFL growth markets – the UK, Germany, Canada and Mexico – he went out of his way to highlight Brazil as a major target.


“We’re growing rapidly there, off a tiny base but that’s just an amazing sports market,” Waller said of a country where ESPN currently broadcasts NFL games. Pointing to last year’s World Cup and next year’s Olympic Games, Waller added: “And at the end of it, that’s a market that’s going to be sitting with an incredible sports infrastructure, particularly in stadiums, and that’s critically important for us – it’s where we’re on the same timezone and can play games. That’s a great opportunity for us and one we’ll start to dig in to.”


Waller, meanwhile, painted a vivid picture of life as a British sports fan in the United States, revealing that he regularly takes in a Premier League game on his cell phone standing in line at Starbucks on a Sunday morning after walking his dog.

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