News Corp teams up with European football giants
Written on the 14 March 2018 by David Simmons
News Corp (ASX: NWS) has offloaded its football highlights mobile app in a deal that will secure it a major stake in a video service co-owned by nine of the world's top clubs.
Digital football business Dugout has acquired News Corp's online football highlights platform, ballball, which delivers content featuring the world's top leagues to fans in southeast Asia.
Dugout is a venture that is co-owned by major football clubs including AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid CF, Inter Milan, Roma, Napoli, Tottenham Hotspur, Atletico Madrid and more.
News Corp has not given any financial details of the deal with Dugout but says it will now have a minority stake in a new business called Dugout SE Asia that will eventually expand beyond ballball's current market of Vietnam and Indonesia.
The board for the new venture with Dugout will include senior News Corp executive and former Chelsea media boss Simon Greenberg.
Ballball, based in Singapore, is the fourth-largest Facebook destination in both Vietnam and Indonesia.
Dugout chairman Elliot Richardson says the region is a hugely important market for the world's biggest clubs.
"The chance to work with News Corp as a partner is so exciting," says Richardson.
"We know that southeast Asia is a hugely important territory for football clubs and the brands we work with, so we look forward to giving football fans in the region a great experience."
Ballball was launched by News Corp in August 2013 and distributes a large collection of short-form highlights from European and other top football leagues to the region - generating 800 million video views during the 2017-18 football season.
From Wednesday, the best of Dugout's content will be showcased on ballball.com.
Simon Greenberg, News Corp's global head of rights and future Dugout SE Asia board member says the deal represents the company's commitment to forging partnerships with companies making a real impact in a turbulent media environment.
"We are very excited that News Corp is forging this new partnership with Dugout, a unique business that brings with it incredible connections across the world of football," says Greenberg.
"In today's rapidly changing media environment, it's essential to work with strong and innovative partners like Dugout that recognise the value of premium content."
"The team [at ballball] has built an unparalleled digital expertise and reputation to make it the go-to mobile destination for football highlights in the region. Dugout recognises the value of that work and together we can use this foundation to create a very compelling mobile offering for the many millions of football fans in SE Asia."
Dugout launched in late 2016 and has already gathered over 67 million unique users and 912 million video views to date. Over 12,500 videos have been posted on the platform by clubs, players and brands.
In December, Dugout launched a partnership with Major League Soccer which boosted the brand's global profile and tapped into the growing popularity of soccer in North America.
Dugout previously signed deals with companies including VEWD, SPOTX, Rakuten/Viber and Aamazon to reach more users and provide brands advertising on the platform.
Shares in News Corp are down 1.21 per cent to $21.19 per share at 11.02am AEDT.
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons