Sportico Transactions: Moves and Mergers Roundup for September 23

·6 min read

Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry

Personnel

ESPN Names VP for Women’s Vertical

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ESPN has hired Susie Piotrkowski as vice president, espnW. In her new role, she will help drive the vision for the espnW portfolio, including the new W. Studios group, and lead the further development, creation and execution of espnW content. She joins ESPN from Octagon, where she was head of Women’s Team Sports. In her role, she was charged with leading athlete, league and brand clients on identifying, securing and amplifying growth opportunities across the women’s sports and entertainment landscapes. Prior to joining Octagon, Piotrkowski served as vice president of Sponsorship Sales for the National Women’s Soccer League.

PGA Tour Superstore Elevates Two Execs

PGA Tour Superstore owner and chairman Arthur Blank has promoted Dick Sullivan from president and chief executive officer to executive chairman and CEO. Additionally, Jill Spiegel was promoted from chief merchandising officer to president, making her one of the highest-ranking women in the golf industry and across Blank’s portfolio of businesses. Sullivan’s work with Blank’s businesses dates to The Home Depot in the 1990s, where Sullivan held various senior roles culminating as the home improvement retailer’s chief marketing officer. When Blank bought the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 2002, he tapped Sullivan to lead marketing for the team. In 2010, Blank purchased the 10-store PGA Tour Superstore and Sullivan moved from the Falcons to become CEO and sales have grown more than 500 percent during his tenure. Spiegel joined PGA Tour Superstore in 2011 as VP of Merchandising, Soft Goods. Prior to joining PGA Tour Superstore, Spiegel held merchandising roles at Belk Department store and Macy’s.

New Haven Tabs New Director for M.S. Esports Program

The University of New Haven has named Jonathan Stringfield, Ph.D., director of its masters in esports business program, the first and only such online program in the field. Stringfield is the vice president for global business research and marketing at Activision Blizzard and previously held leadership positions at Twitter, Facebook and Nielsen. He has taught at the university for the last year, during which he developed a class curriculum that combines classical marketing, marketing science, and sports marketing. Stringfield has spent nearly 20 years as a research and marketing executive specializing in technology, and he recently wrote Get in the Game: How to Level Up Your Business with Gaming, Esports, and Emerging Technologies.

Partnerships

Sorare becomes exclusive global partner to Liverpool FC 

Sorare has expanded its partnership with Liverpool FC, becoming a global, exclusive partner of the club. As part of the multi-year deal, the pair will collaborate on multimedia fan content and unique experiences for Liverpool fans and Sorare’s managers. Sorare first joined with Liverpool in 2021 to launch digital cards of its players on the Sorare platform. The renewed deal will provide enhanced opportunities for Liverpool to engage new fans across the globe through Sorare, which has users in 185 countries, and benefit from novel revenue streams granted through new licensing categories. Sorare combines a free-to-play fantasy game with digital collectibles—underpinned by non-fungible technology to create digital scarcity for each card—to bring fans closer to the game.

Calgary Flames, Official League Hook Up for Sports Merch

Official League has partnered with the NHL’s Calgary Flames for limited-edition hat and apparel designs throughout the 2022-23 Season. The first design will be a hat collection, handmade and hand-numbered 1-100. Since launching in February 2022, Official League has collaborated with both major and minor league sports teams on fashion-forward products. Official League’s partners have included the NBA, Bundesliga, USL, Major League Rugby and more.

Gaming Society Announces First Official Sportsbook Partner

Gaming Society, a new sports betting and gaming platform, has inked a partnership with FanDuel. As part of the agreement, FanDuel will sponsor Gaming Society’s NFL-focused newsletter, which is distributed every Thursday and examines trending topics on-and-off the field through the lens of sports betting and gamification. Gaming Society’s newsletters focuses on introducing new fans to sports betting through an emphasis on storytelling and betting education, underscoring the company’s commitment to making betting more inclusive, accessible and easy to understand for all fans. The NFL-focused newsletter, sponsored by FanDuel, will include regular betting tips and explainers in a weekly segment titled “The Betting Academy,” the company’s educational vertical.

FanDuel Renews Partnership with The GIST

In an active week for FanDuel, it also renewed a collaboration with The GIST that makes it an Official Sportsbook Partner of The GIST’s global sports reports. FanDuel and The GIST will work together to make sports betting more accessible, inclusive and fun for underserved sports fans. FanDuel Sportsbook odds will appear in The GIST’s 4x-weekly sports newsletters, including an NFL ‘Game of the Week’ and marquee game previews for the NBA and FIFA Women’s World Cup. Specifically for the NFL, FanDuel will have a significant newsletter presence throughout the regular season and playoffs including weekly presenting partner sponsorship and weekly NFL editorial section sponsorship. The GIST’s mission is to make sports more engaging and inclusive for women.

Products

NBA Launches App for DTC Streaming

The NBA launched a reimagined version of its global NBA App, which will serve as an all-in-one destination for content from every NBA game and feature social-style vertical video, behind-the-scenes access to players and teams, and new and existing shows and series. A product of NBA Digital, the league’s joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery, the app includes a new design and a first-of-its-kind “For You” experience, with content recommendations based on fan preferences and personalization. It will also feature live games from leagues around the world as well as NBA partner and influencer-created content. The league’s direct-to-consumer subscription offerings—NBA League Pass and NBA TV—will be integrated into the App, giving fans the ability to watch live games and highlights and check scores, statistics and standings, all in one place. The streams will feature higher video quality, lower streaming latency and a seamless user experience for consuming live NBA content.

Card Shop Live Secures $1.5M Seed Round, Launches Interactive Shopping

The recently launched Card Shop Live—a mobile and web marketplace for buying, trading and selling sports cards, memorabilia and collectibles—completed a funding round led by SGC that secured $1.5 million. The financing will further enable the company to refine its technology, grow its partnerships and create new tools. The platform brings enthusiasts together to discover, chat and purchase items, and users have access to live streaming shopping, live breaks, interviews, exclusive events and auctions, giving people another way to browse, sell and buy in an environment that is often found offline. The platform was founded by Mike Gioseffi, co-host of the podcast Sports Cards Nonsense on The Ringer, and five other sports and culture enthusiasts. The app includes features such as chat, direct messaging, and user forums. Additionally, there is a a curated selection of vetted sellers and exclusive events for trading cards and comics.

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