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Foul Play: ESPN Called Out over Deep Fake Interview 🎥
Plus, is Serie A the canary in the coal mine? and another creator-led brand throws its hat in the sport sponsorship ring
Welcome to Sports Pundit, the sports business newsletter delivering news as frequently as Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Ors 🏆
In today’s email;
That Damian Lillard Interview 🎥
Depreciating Broadcast Rights? 🤔
An NBA Sponsorship Brief 🏀
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Foul Play: ESPN Called out over Deep Fake Interview
ESPN has faced criticism for using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to modify a historic interview featuring NBA star Damian Lillard.
Lillard's outstanding debut performance in the Bucks' 118-117 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers made him a prime candidate for a post-game interview.
As such, ESPN’s SportsCenter account duly shared a video that appeared to show Damian Lillard engaging in an on-court interview with the broadcaster.
In reality, it was a digitally manipulated version of an interview Lillard had conducted three years ago with TNT's Chris Haynes inside the NBA Bubble while he was still playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Using AI, ESPN had replaced Lillard’s jersey and even replaced the TNT logo on the microphone with its own.
This was spotted by fans, as well as Portland radio host Danny Marang, who openly called out ESPN's social media team on Twitter.
Sports Pundit says
🤔 Despite the pushback, the broadcaster's subsequent statement hardly qualifies as an apology.
The broadcaster attempted to justify their actions by stating, "We occasionally look to connect sports moments of the past with contemporary imagery and storylines as part of our social content.”
They also claimed it was not their intention to misrepresent anything for fans, however, the lack of a disclaimer on the video suggests otherwise.
While AI offers significant opportunities to personalise content for fans opening up a ton of positive opportunities, it does also pose a threat to the owners of intellectual property (IP), such as the NBA, as well as, ironically, ESPN and their parent company, Disney.
As Jack Baer from Yahoo Sports aptly pointed out, you have to question if the network would tolerate a different entity using their interviews in a similar way. As such, this situation does set a potentially concerning precedent for the use of owned content on social media.
Is Serie A the Canary in the Coal Mine? 🤔
It was reported last month that DAZN and Sky will keep the rights to screen live Serie A matches in Italy for the next five seasons after Italian clubs approved bids worth at least €4.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion).
Prior to the deal, Serie A had been bullish, even under current market conditions, that they could seal an extension in excess of €1 billion per season.
Instead, they have negotiated a €900m deal until 2029. A 3% decrease, but also secured over a longer period (five years instead of the regular three).
In his recently launched newsletter, titled ‘Game Within The Game’, Paul Macdonald asks what this means for the wider sports industry.
It means that the cycle of rises that has occurred in domestic broadcast rights deals since the early 2000s looks to be coming to an end. And that isn’t good news.
It has been an easy revenue stream to manage and relatively easy to negotiate for governing bodies. They grant access to the matches and the rights holder does the rest.
But in a market of rabid cord-cutting and the questioning of the determinate value of rights, we haven’t just plateaued, we have came over the other side of the mountain…
[E]ven the biggest league in the world is anticipating having to increase their package in order to maintain their current value. The EPL are looking to offer 270 games instead of 200 to give more matches to broadcasters for roughly the same outlay.
This should allow them to maintain a clear advantage over the rest of Europe. But others won’t be so lucky (see Ligue 1).
Private equity firm CVC, which has stakes in professional rugby, tennis, and volleyball, postpones plans for European IPO 💰
AFC Bournemouth owner Bill Foley in advanced talks over minority stake in Hibernian ⚽️
Michael Andlauer sold his 10% minority interest in the Montreal Canadiens at a record $2.5 billion enterprise value 🏒
Plans for a Portland expansion franchise in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) have been put on hold by the league 🏀
Coupang agrees big increase to land Bundesliga rights in South Korea (thanks to Bayern’s Kim Min Jae) 🇰🇷
A multi-year agreement will bring premium live TNT Sports content to Cosm's immersive entertainment venues starting in 2024 👀
KEEPING UP WITH THE… NBA
Sponsorship Brief: Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS Team up with NBA and WNBA 🏀
SKIMS, the prominent shapewear brand, has recently become the official underwear partner of the NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball.
The partnership comes hot on the heels of the Kim Kardashian-founded brand announcing last week that it was entering the men’s category.
This strategic partnership aims to harness the influence of sports to promote SKIMS' new product lines. Fans can anticipate SKIMS making its presence felt at major basketball events very soon, such as the NBA All-Star and the NBA In-Season Tournaments.
Co-Founder, Kim Kardashian, who serves as the brand’s creative director, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “Together, SKIMS and the NBA will connect people of all backgrounds through fashion, sport, and talent, and I look forward to seeing the partnership thrive.”
Sports Pundit says
🤔 The opportunity for SKIMS to be linked to the NBA and WNBA presents a clear opportunity.
The brand seeks to capitalise on the leagues' assets to establish credibility and recognition among new audiences, especially targeting the 66% of American men who identify as casual (35%) or avid (31%) NBA fans.
However, there is benefit for the NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball that go beyond any sponsorship fee that they have received.
With 5.4 million followers on Instagram, SKIMS has already started to post about its partnership with the league.
This is exposing the NBA to a previously untapped female audience more inclined to follow celebrities like Kim or Kylie than athletes like KD or Kyrie. This partnership also broadens the audience scope for many WNBA players, too.
In many respects, it’s not all that different from KSI and Jake Paul’s PRIME becoming the official hydration partner of the LA Dodgers or Bayern Munich.
There is a mutual benefit in trading one another’s attention – and attention is something SKIMS and the Kardashians certainly
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