Sports media and marketing company TGI Sport has acquired virtual advertising tech company Brand Brigade as it looks to grow in North America and take advantage of a boom in digital overlays.
Driven partly by technological advances and the unique challenges presented by COVID-19, virtual ads—graphics and images added into broadcast feeds that appear to be on or around playing fields—have become commonplace in sports, whether they’re behind MLB home plates, above NHL ice or on NBA hardcourts. Fifteen years ago, Brand Brigade cofounder Sam Chenillo often found himself begging broadcasters to adopt the ad insertion tech; now his company’s tools are used in more than 4,000 sporting events annually, including a majority of MLB, NHL and NBA games.
“COVID did catalyze the adoption of virtual,” Chenillo said, “and at this point, we just see it growing and growing.”
The next step, Chenillo said, is changing what ads different fans see, even to the point of per-device personalizations for hypertargeted promotions. The company will now operate as Brand Brigade powered by TGI Sport with an eye towards international expansion. Specific deal terms were not disclosed.
Last year, Bruin Capital acquired 50% of TGI in a $100 million move. It operates a separate technology used to personalize the ads shown on physical digital boards at events and has worked with a number of international brands including UEFA and FIFA. The company also recently acquired virtual media solutions provider Interregional Sports Group.
“In reality we’re a sports management company, but we are a sports video solutions provider, and we want to be tech led,” TGI Sport Global CEO Martin Jolly said in an interview. “We can walk into any client and when we get the brief in our own business here, we can offer a solution.”