The Week in Sportbiz: Cricket meets hip-hop; Germany exports VAR; and the ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ goes global
Cricket and hip-hop aren’t obvious bedfellows but they cosied up this week when South Africa fast bowler Lungi Ngidi joined Jay-Z’s talent stable Roc Nation.
Ngidi, South Africa’s player of the year in one-day and T20 internationals, is the first cricketer to sign with Roc Nation Sports.
Roc Nation has snapped up mostly American athletes, including the NBA’s Kyrie Irving, since branching out into sport in 2013.
But it has increasingly looked overseas and away from traditional US sports in recent years.
Boris-baiting England footballer Marcus Rashford joined Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku on the agency’s books this year.
Roc Nation also has a partnership with resurgent Italian giants AC Milan which has highlighted the increasing crossover between sport and entertainment.
Also mining that seam is TaP, which looks after the careers of pop stars Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding and Lana Del Rey.
TaP this week announced its move into sport, with Leeds United and their midfielder Kalvin Phillips as initial clients.
Germany happy to mention the VAR
Germany’s reputation for engineering precision is well established, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that it is now exporting its version of VAR.
Video assistant referee and goal-line technology are just part of a suite of products the Bundesliga is offering to other leagues and federations.
The services are being marketed by Sportec Solutions, a joint venture between tech company Deltatre and DFL, which runs German football’s top divisions.
Sportec Solutions also offers data gathering and analysis tools, a fast-growing sector for leagues and clubs alike.
DAZN lands Canelo hook for UK launch
DAZN looks to have pulled off a huge win just in time for its on-off-on UK launch.
The streaming service with aspirations to be a “Netflix of sports” has secured exclusive rights to show Canelo Alvarez’s super-middleweight title fight with Briton Callum Smith on 19 December.
DAZN had to shelve a major expansion to 200 countries including the UK when the pandemic hit but is due to go live here next month.
A knock-down introductory price of £1.99 per month looked in keeping with a modest first major card, topped by Luke Campbell’s fight with Ryan Garcia.
The curse of DAZN looked to have struck again when Campbell’s Covid-19 diagnosis caused that bout to be cancelled last week.
But global superstar Canelo’s first fight for more than a year, against Liverpudlian Smith looks sure to attract UK sign-ups.
The appetite for live boxing was underlined by audience figures for Irish fighter Katie Taylor’s latest outing.
More than 2m viewers in Britain and Ireland watched Taylor beat Miriam Gutierrez in a bout made available for free by Sky Sports on its website and apps as well as YouTube and Facebook.
Premiership and BT avoid PPV pitfall
Premiership Rugby has been smart enough to learn from the Premier League’s pay-per-view mistake ahead of its new season.
BT Sport will show every single Premiership game at no extra cost to subscribers while fans remain banned from stadiums.
On top of that, eligible season ticket-holders will be given free access to their club’s home matches via the broadcaster’s app.
The move comes after their football counterparts abandoned a wildly unpopular policy of charging fans £14.95 to watch matches not originally scheduled for TV.
Tartan anthem goes transatlantic
The effects of Scotland’s qualification for next summer’s European Championship, their first major football tournament for more than 20 years, are being felt far and wide.
Take the sudden ubiquity of unofficial Tartan Army anthem “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”, after footage of the jubilant players singing it went viral, for example.
Just days after Scotland’s heroics it surfaced in the gaudy world of WWE, where wrestler Drew McIntyre roared the lyrics mid-match in tribute to his fellow Scots.
Expect to hear it ringing out at the delayed Euro 2020, not least when Steve Clarke’s men visit Wembley to play England on 18 June.