Press Review - January 2022

The economic and social impact of the Premier League

EY released, on January the 18th, “The economic and social impact of the Premier League” report that highlights the Premier League as a major British business success story with economic activity having grown by 840% in the last twenty years.

The contribution of the Premier League is estimated at £7.6 billion in the 2019/20 season. In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Premier League supported 94.000 jobs. “This economic activity raised substantial sums for the Exchequer, with £3.6 billion generated in UK tax payments. The impact of the League across the country is striking, with each of England’s nine administrative regions represented by at least one club in 2019/20. This widespread geographic footprint channels the vast majority (72%) of the League’s economic impact to areas outside of London,” Peter Arnold, Partner at EY, says.

The Premier League also enhances the global perception of the UK, as it engages a cumulative audience of 3.2 billion worldwide viewers, with a broadcasting income reaching £1.4 billion in 2019/20. Arnold underpins that “the Premier League is also an important asset for “Global Britain”. […] Closer to home, and in ‘normal’ times, this appeal also drives the visitor economy, as hundreds of thousands of international visitors travel to the UK each year to watch Premier League clubs. In 2019/20, 528,000 people visited the UK to watch a match, spending around £442 million on UK goods and services.

The pandemic has highlighted the role of football within communities across the country like never before. Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Masters, said: “We are proud of the level of support we provide the football pyramid, as well as funding community organizations of clubs up and down the country. The importance of their work has been more evident than ever in recent times, providing help to people who needed it the most… This success and popularity (of the Premier League) enables us to continue investing in the competition and provide unparalleled support to the whole game and communities, ensuring the positive impact of the Premier League is felt far beyond what we see on the pitch.

Paris Saint-Germain launches OFF THE PITCH,
the book of a decade of brand evolution

Paris Saint-Germain had launched, on January the 6th, OFF THE PITCH, a collector's book that traces a decade of PSG’s brand transformation from 2011 to 2021.

This self-published book brings together all of the club's achievements, and shows how the brand strategy of Paris Saint-Germain enabled it to become one of the most inspiring sports brands in the world. Jean-Martial Ribes, PSG Communications Managing Director: “This success is the result of a brand strategy that has been consistently thought out and implemented, based on the ambition to create emotion and develop the brand's power of attraction in order to attract new fans with different backgrounds and interests. For the tenth anniversary of this new project, we wanted to bring together everything that makes Paris Saint-Germain so unique among its fans.”

Within 10 years the club has become a worldwide reference off the field. PSG has extended its brand to new territories. OFF THE PITCH offers a dive into the transformation of the Paris Saint-Germain brand, in the world of fashion with designers Koche and Esteban Cortazar, in music with Prince and the Rolling Stones, in lifestyle with the emblematic partnership with the Jordan brand since 2018 or even in gastronomy with the collaboration with chef Yannick Alléno. Fabien Allègre, PSG Brand Director: "Today, many other sports brands are following us in the development strategy initiated ten years ago. We strive to maintain this lead with the vision and agility that characterizes us. Part of our success was to discover new talent. This is what we do, for example, by going out to discover, in Paris and in our regions, artisans who have real know-how and who make the best products each in their field."

Microsoft buys video game giant Activision Blizzard for $69 billion,
an industry record amount

Microsoft announced on January the 18th that it was buying U.S. video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Activision's stock soared more than 37% on Wall Street after the announcement in pre-market trading and was suspended.

According to Reuters, “Microsoft is buying "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in the biggest gaming industry deal in history as global technology giants stake their claims to a virtual future.” This statement is corroborated by Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella: "Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of Metaverse platforms."

Microsoft adds that, upon completion of the transaction, it will become the world's third largest video game company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The AFP underlines that Microsoft has become, thanks to several recent acquisitions, one of the most important players in the video game industry. In September 2020, Xbox (the group's video game division) announced the purchase of the giant ZeniMax, which owns the Bethesda studio, known for The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, and Dishonored series, for approximately €6.4 billion. It was, until then, the biggest operation of Microsoft in this sector, after the purchase of famous studios, such as Mojang (Minecraft), Obsidian (The Outer Worlds), Ninja Theory (Hellblade), and Double Fine (Psychonauts).

Netflix to produce tennis documentary series

Netflix announced, on January the 14th, that it has signed a partnership with the ATP and WTA to film a behind-the-scenes series about the 2022 pro tennis season.

For the first time, fans will be able to share in a year in the life of some of the world’s best tennis players as they journey around the world, seeking to win on the sport’s biggest stages. To bring this unique immersive documentary series to the screen, Netflix has teamed up with the four Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP Tour, WTA Tour, and ATP Media beginning with the 2022 season at the Australian Open”, Netflix company said in a press release.

With the same big idea as for the “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” documentary and produced by the same company (Box to Box), the series offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the highest level of competition, from the perspective of the athletes and teams. Netflix underlines also that the series will also be the first sports program of its kind to provide an equal platform to the male and female athletes.

"We are excited to continue bolstering our lineup of sports programming with this behind-the-scenes documentary series. Tennis is beloved all over the world, with high-stakes tournaments hopping across continents and athletes hailing from countless countries. Through this historic partnership with the four Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP Tour, WTA Tour, and ATP Media, the series will be packed with rare access and rich personal stories that are sure to draw in longtime fans and new audiences alike." said Brandon Riegg, Netflix Vice President of Unscripted and Documentary Series.

New York Times to buy The Athletic for $550 million

The New York Times Company announced, on January the 6th, that it has reached an agreement to acquire The Athletic, the global digital subscription-based sports media business that provides national and local coverage of more than 200 clubs and teams in the U.S. and around the world, for an all cash purchase price of $550 million.

It is the biggest acquisition for the newspaper in almost three decades, and will bring The Athletic’s 1.2m digital subscribers to the New York Times, helping chief executive Meredith Levien reach the company’s goal of 10m subscribers by 2025.

Launched in 2016, The Athletic had taken the gamble of online-only paid sports news with a strong local presence, hiring renowned journalists in major U.S. cities. Taking advantage of the often financially strapped local press situation, the platform quickly became a go-to place for sports news in the United States. "The Times already provides distinctive sports coverage for a general interest audience as part of our core report. As a standalone product, The Athletic will enable us to offer much more extensive coverage for fans who seek a deep connection to and understanding of their favorite teams, leagues and players", Levien adds.

The Athletic has been growing at a rapid pace, launching a UK version in 2019 and partnering with Australian television group Optus Sport in 2021. But, according to several U.S. media outlets, The Athletic was struggling to reach profitability and was thinking about refocusing its strategy on the U.S. market.