For the first time during this year’s Wimbledon fortnight, it will be possible to follow the bouncing yellow ball on grass in 3D. Sony has announced a deal with the All-England Lawn Tennis Club to air select Wimbledon matches in 3D in hundreds of its movie theaters, including the men's semifinals and finals as well as the women's finals. The BBC, which holds the U.K. TV rights to the tournament, "has still to decide whether to broadcast in 3D."
Real life three-dimensional ATP President Adam Helfant is also making news. Earlier this week, Helfant announced that he would step down as head of the ATP at the end of the year, stating that it was the right time for him to move on. A successor has not yet been announced.
Fashion is always a big part of tennis’ Slams, and this year’s Wimbledon matches are no exception. The British Fashion Council is capitalizing on the global interest in Wimbledon by enlisting Britain’s top fashion design talent, including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Giles Deacon, and Burberry, to design exclusive outfits for the world’s top women players for this year's pre-Wimbledon party. The dresses will auctioned off during Wimbledon, with the proceeds split between WTA charities and the British Fashion Council's Princess of Wales Charitable Trust.
Not to be outdone, tennis player Maria Sharapova last year renewed her contract with Nike in an eight-year deal estimated to be worth as much as $70 million, the most ever for a female athlete, including royalties from clothes she designs for the brand. Sharapova also designs shoes and handbags for Cole Haan and endorses such luxury brands as Tiffany and Tag Heuer, and Sony Ericsson. She also has more than 4.3 million Facebook fans.
On the men’s side, the Royal Bank of Scotland has announced a new sponsorship deal with Andy Murray despite the major cutbacks the bank has made since its taxpayer bail-out. A long-standing backer of the Scottish tennis star and his brother Jamie, RBS’ last deal, struck in 2009, was reportedly worth US$3.25 million annually.
MLB Looks at Carving up the Map
Redistricting proposals in Texas and Wisconsin saw a gaggle of state representatives fleeing across state lines in protest, hiding out en masse and incognito in the wilds of Oklahoma and Michigan. If Major League Baseball decides to realign its divisions, will we see a flood of pitchers and catchers doing the same?
In yet another possible blow to the tradition of the game, MLB is looking at the possibility of realignment that would create two leagues of 15 teams as opposed to the current structure of 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American divided into multiple divisions. One option discussed has been eliminating the divisions altogether with 15 AL and 15 NL teams vying for five playoff spots within each league.
The Astros and Marlins are considered leading candidates to move to the American League.
There is a lot of buzz out of Dallas that the member of the NBA champion Mavericks who will cash in the greatest on the newly won NBA title in terms of sports endorsements is owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban already has a relationship with Samsung, was a contestant on ABC's “Dancing with the Stars” and made a cameo appearance as himself in HBO's Entourage. Now, he is being lauded for his uncharacteristically impeccable behavior during the finals, which included allowing original Dallas owner Donald Carter to accept the championship trophy.
It is believed Cuban will get many offers to serve as a pitchman for business-related products and services.
Olympic Rights Aftermath
Comcast executives are working overtime to assure shareholders that NBC's $4.38B deal to keep U.S. television rights to the Olympics through 2020 will be profitable. The Comcast/NBC bid was nearly $1 billion higher than the next closest proposal, from Fox. But Comcast felt it was strategically important to have a long-term relationship for four games rather than two.
The Games will cost NBC $775 million in 2014, $1.226 billion in 2016, $963 million in 2018 and $1.418 billion in 2020. The business plan is to combine NBC's broadcast and cable networks with Comcast’s sports assets, which include Versus, Golf Channel and 11 Regional Sports Networks.
UFC now is eyeing its own cable network to build an even closer relationship with the sport's growing fan base. The conglomerate is in talks to buy control of NBC Universal's struggling G4 gaming network. UFC's contract with Spike TV expires at the end of the year and UFC has been demanding a substantial increase in money to renew it.
A deal is also in place to distribute some events on Comcast-owned Versus. But having control of its own network would open new revenue streams for UFC and allow it to collect monthly carriage fees from cable and satellite-TV companies. A deal with Comcast could also include specials on NBC.