December 28, 2021

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Front Office Sports


Here’s one more reason 2021 was an unprecedented year: Global M&A volume reportedly hit $5 trillion. The sum was the highest ever … by around $900 billion. No wonder we saw so many massive deals in the sports space.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Design: John Regula

Two major rivals will meet in next year’s Super Bowl: and FTX. recently purchased a Super Bowl ad from NBC, which will air the game. Fellow cryptocurrency exchange FTX purchased an ad for the Feb. 13 broadcast earlier this year.

NBC is reportedly charging as much as $6.5 million for a 30-second spot, up from the $5.5 million CBS commanded for commercials during last February’s broadcast. has made sports a major avenue for elevating its brand.

  • In November, the company took over naming rights of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Kings home arena in a 20-year, $700 million deal.
  • In July, inked a 10-year, $175 million deal with UFC.
  • In June, it signed a five-year pact with Formula 1 worth $100 million.
  • It has also partnered with Angel City FC, Serie A, Paris Saint-Germain, and the Montreal Canadiens.

Crypto’s New Battleground

FTX has kept pace, scoring the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena in a 19-year, $135 million deal and the field at California Memorial Stadium for $17.5 million over 10 years.

“Diehard sports fans are typically going to be males, 18 to 35, with disposable income, which aligns nicely with the demographic of your typical retail trader,” FTX head of partnerships Sina Nader told Front Office Sports in October.

Rolex Sydney Hobart/Design: John Regula

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has returned after being canceled last year due to the pandemic.

This year’s race began on Sunday with 88 boats but has already seen dozens withdraw because of “treacherous conditions.” Dubbed ocean racing’s “Everest,” the race dates back to 1945 and is so dangerous that a storm killed six people and sank five boats in the 1998 event.

The 628-mile race, which introduced a two-handed division this year, ends on Jan. 1.

  • For inexperienced sailors who want to join, they can usually buy their way in to help offset costs of keeping the boats working properly.
  • To sail on Steve Capell’s boat Eve in 2019, there was reportedly a discounted group fee of $34,000.

There is no cash prize, but winners do receive a trophy and a Rolex — the brand has been the race’s presenting sponsor since 2002. Boats range from 30 to 100 feet, with between six and 24 crew members.

The Race’s Audience

More than 400,000 spectators reportedly attend the event. Some luxury yachts offer a front-row seat to the race. For example, Silver Spirit welcomes 40 guests for a 3.5 hour, $285 all-inclusive cruise.

The Seven Network signed a deal with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in 2019 to broadcast the event until 2023. More than 1.5 million viewers tuned in in 2018.

Ubisoft/Design: John Regula

Ubisoft wants to become a key player in NFTs by integrating the technology into its gaming titles, but backlash from consumers may thwart the company’s goals.

Earlier this month, the French video game studio launched Quartz, a platform that allows players to acquire playable NFTs. The platform has failed to garner acceptance from gamers.

The heart of the argument is that blockchain-based assets add unnecessary microtransactions that hamper the gaming experience by pushing players to spend to improve.

Ubisoft isn’t the only video game company in this position.

  • Earlier this month, Ukrainian developer GSC Game World canceled everything NFT-related in its “S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl” title.
  • GSC Game World cited negative feedback from players regarding NFTs, despite plans to use the revenue they generate to aid in development.

The Good and Bad

Ubisoft posted net bookings of $444 million in fiscal Q2 2022, a 13.8% increase year-over-year. The results were driven by “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla,” which is already the second-largest profit generating game in Ubisoft’s history since being released in November 2020.

However, Ubisoft has been hit with a wave of resignations over the past 18 months due to low wages, the company’s handling of a workplace misconduct scandal in 2020, and frustration with its creative direction.

ABB Formula E/Design: John Regula

Sustainability is playing an increasingly important role in the sports industry.

On Wednesday, Dec. 22, Formula E published its annual sustainability report following the eco-friendly championship’s seventh season.

  • Formula E became the first sport in the world to join the Science Based Targets initiative and the Business Ambition for 1.5°C commitment and plans to reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030.
  • The new Gen3 racing car was unveiled by Formula E and the FIA for Season 9. It will be the world’s most efficient racing car with 40% of the energy in a race coming from regeneration and will be certified net-zero carbon.
  • Formula E is also the first global sports organization to partner with UNICEF on climate change.

Formula E is quickly growing in popularity. Race viewership increased by 125% in key overseas markets with 25% year-over-year growth in domestic markets.

A Lucrative Investment

Being a leader in sustainability could ultimately be a lucrative advantage. Fund flows (the net transfer of money into and out of funds) for sustainability-based investments increased 40% in 2021 to $330 billion — indicating increased interest in all things “carbon-friendly.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the evolving role of sustainability in sports, check out our Insights report on the topic.

  • Congress is considering holding a hearing on the NFL’s handling of the Washington Football Team scandal around the same time as the upcoming Super Bowl, sources told Front Office Sports.
  • Following a federal judge’s conclusion that Apple violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, the company is appealing it and California announced it wants to take a position in the dispute.
  • Final Fantasy 16’s development has been delayed by nearly half a year due to the pandemic.
  • Fans who post racist abuse against soccer players online can now be banned from attending games in the United Kingdom for up to 10 years.

*All times are EST unless otherwise noted.

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

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