Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and products across the sports business industry.
NBPA Appoints Chief Medical Officer
The NBPA has hired Dr. Asheesh Bedi as the chief medical officer. In this role, Dr. Bedi will work with NBPA leadership to set the strategic direction for player health, lead the NBPA’s sports medicine programming and oversee initiatives related to policy development, evidence-based research, technology, educational opportunities and public outreach, among other responsibilities. Dr. Bedi has over 15 years of experience practicing medicine as an orthopedic physician, surgeon, medical researcher and team physician; he recently worked as an orthopedic team physician for the Chicago Bears and a second opinion consultant for the NHLPA.
Quinn Pacini Named VP of Broadcast Operations for Scripps Sports
Quinn Pacini has been appointed vice president of broadcast operations for Scripps Sports. In that role, which starts on May 22, Pacini will be responsible for Scripps’ live sports and sports-related content presentation, including the WNBA’s 44 games televised on ION and the Vegas Golden Knights’ non-nationally exclusives games, per Scripps Sports agreements. He will serve as the primary lead with the company’s internal production team, local affiliates, talent and production partners. Pacini has been a committee member of Scripps Sports since it was announced by The E.W. Scripps Company in December 2022. He has led the efforts to launch and generate revenue as the official media rights holder of the Big Sky Conference (2022-present). From 2015 to 2022, Pacini was general manager of Learfield at Montana State, where he led the multimedia revenue, operations and negotiations.
Chris Heck Hired as President of Business Operations for V Sports, Aston Villa
V Sports and Aston Villa FC have named Chris Heck as the group’s new president of business operations. Chris Heck brings over 30 years of sports industry experience to the club, including his most recent role as president of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Prior to his time with the 76ers, he held leadership roles at Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and the NBA. He will report to Aston Villa ownership, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, and have full responsibility for all business and commercial matters.
Formula E Undergoes Leadership Transition
The Board of Formula E has brought on Jeff Dodds as CEO, starting June 5. Dodds joins from Virgin Media O2 and will lead the next phase of Formula E’s growth as the first electric motorsport world championship and driving force behind sustainability in elite sport. Dodds served as chief operating officer at Virgin Media O2 for the past two years; prior to that he held leadership positions at Virgin Media as COO, managing director and chief marketing officer. Jamie Reigle will step down as Formula E CEO, and he will now move to an advisory role for the remainder of the season to ensure a seamless leadership transition.
NHLPA Names Ron Hainsey Assistant Executive Director
The NHLPA announced that Ron Hainsey has been promoted to Assistant Executive Director. Hainsey joined the NHLPA staff in April 2021 as the Assistant to the Executive Director for Special Projects and Development Initiatives. Hainsey played many years in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup in 2016-17 with the Penguins. Off the ice, Hainsey was a NHLPA Player Representative for five seasons and a long-time member of the Competition Committee.
Scripps Sports Taps Playfly Sports as National Sales Arm for WNBA Broadcasts
Scripps Sports has named Playfly Sports as the exclusive national sales arm of its Friday night WNBA broadcasts. Playfly Sports’ Home Team Sports division will handle the partnership development, sales and execution on all in-broadcast advertising for the regular-season games on ION. Currently, Playfly is the exclusive national seller of advertising for all NBA, NHL and MLB broadcasts. Additionally, the team’s sales efforts are accelerated by Playfly’s proprietary tech and insights platforms that support forecasting, ordering and reporting processes.
Chelsea FC and FICO to Promote Financial Empowerment
FICO will become the primary official partner of Chelsea FC’s men’s 2023-24 preseason tour; the men will travel to the United States for a series of games. During the tour, Chelsea will aid FICO’s mission to support communities by improving financial literacy. FICO will hold “Score A Better Future Fundamentals” financial education workshops designed for high school students in the cities where Chelsea will play, including Atlanta, Chicago and Chapel Hill, N.C.
FC Bayern Partners With SAP Emarsys Platform
FC Bayern has partnered with SAP Emarsys, the omnichannel customer engagement platform, to provide a “one-fan experience” that engages and rewards supporters around the world. This partnership enables FC Bayern to centralize and analyze customer data, providing a better understanding of each fan as a unique individual and delivering personalized content online and in physical places, no matter where they are in the world. The SAP Emarsys platform enables FC Bayern to better engage with its existing fanbase and unlock new potential fans.
Prime Video Signs Multiyear Deal With Professional Pickleball Association
Prime Video has signed a multiyear agreement with the Carvana Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour, giving Prime Video exclusive global streaming rights to four live PPA Tour events per year, including the 2023-24 PPA World Championship Series. Pickleball coverage on Prime Video started Thursday with the Acrytech Atlanta Open in Peachtree Corners, Ga. The 2023 PPA Tour World Championship Series schedule on Prime Video include: the Acrytech Atlanta Open; the Vulcan Kansas City Open; the Guaranteed Rate Championships; and the CIBC (U.S. vs. World) Boca Raton Open.
Murray Golf and Tito’s Add to Golf Apparel Line
William Murray Golf and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the official vodka of the PGA Tour, have added six men’s and women’s pieces to the Tito’s x William Murray Golf Collection—a collaborative golf apparel line with 100% of net proceeds donated to the customer’s choice of nonprofit that Tito’s supports. The moisture-wicking lineup features Tito’s-inspired illustrations and colorways depicting the brand’s backstory along with Texas-themed symbols and even a few Easter eggs. The Tito’s x William Murray Transfusion Golf Polo features the popular Transfusion cocktail, and is available in both men’s and women’s fit.
USA Today Sports Media Group and NWSL Announce Deal
USA Today Sports Media Group has inked a multiyear agreement to serve as an official media partner of the NWSL. As part of the agreement, NWSL will leverage USA Today advertising inventory and provide direct introductions to official league sponsors. There will also be components of a revenue share for both parties. Imagn, Gannett’s photo wire service announced a multiyear agreement to serve as the worldwide official photography partner of the NWSL in 2022. Imagn operates as the official supplier for all commercial imagery needs for the NWSL’s sponsors and licensees with images from every match available to publishers for editorial use.
MLS, IMG Arena Extend Partnership to Provide Player and Ball Tracking Data
IMG Arena—a sports data and technology supplier for the betting, media and performance sectors—has extended its partnership with MLS to provide tracking data to MLS Next Pro. The agreement will see IMG Arena integrate its deep tech, cloud-based platform to provide player and ball tracking data to MLS Next Pro to enhance their player performance analysis. The data points collected will include players’ total running distances, speed zones, sprints and separation between players. IMG Arena will also provide tracking data of match officials to enable the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) to support efforts to develop referees in North America.
Little Dot Studios Invests in Formation Games
Little Dot Studios has invested in Formation Games, an independent sports game studio. As part of the investment, Little Dot Studios has produced two TikTok series in anticipation of the launch of Formation Games’ inaugural offering, Club, a mobile, free-to-play digital football club ownership game. Club will utilize real-world player performances allowing owners to build their dream club from the ground up. Formation Games marks the first esports investment by Little Dot Studios and follows the recently announced Little Dot Sport channel management and vertical video production contract win for the David Beckham co-owned business, Guild Esports.
Mahomes Re-ups With T-Mobile and Boosts New Promotion
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick inked a new deal with T-Mobile and celebrated by breaking the news on social media that the company has launched a new sports based promotion. The program provides customers with free MLB.TV if they sign up between May 23 and July 17—All-Star Week, which is taking place at T-Mobile Park hosting this year. The company is also giving new customers who switch to T-Mobile on its Go5G Plus plan $200 (for every line they bring) to put toward any other sports streaming subscription they want. The provider previously announced that users could stream soccer matches for free with MLS Season Pass on Us and ViX Premium on Us.
Diamond Miller, Laeticia Amihere, Marina Mabrey Join Under Armour
Under Armour is welcoming three new players to the brand: Diamond Miller, Laeticia Amihere and Marina Mabrey. Together, Under Armour will work side-by-side with these three athletes to help advance the game. Miller, who played for the Maryland women’s basketball team, was picked No. 2 overall by the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx. Amihere, a member of the 2022 NCAA champion South Carolina Gamecocks, will play for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream this season. Mabrey, drafted into the WNBA in 2019, recently won an Italian league championship victory in which she scored 37 points and was named the MVP of the finals.
Playstation, WNBA Announce Multiyear Partnership
Sony Interactive Entertainment and the WNBA announced a new multiyear partnership to make PlayStation the official console and marketing partner of the WNBA. As part of the partnership, PlayStation will explore marketing opportunities with the WNBA, including at the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas on July 15. SIE added rising WNBA stars Arike Ogunbowale, NaLyssa Smith and Zia Cooke to its existing roster and will team up with them to highlight their passion for gaming.
SimWin Sports Announces New Ownership Group Led by Tom Brady’s Autograph
SimWin Sports, the first AI-driven digital sports league, announced a new ownership group called The Boston Legends. This group is led by Autograph, co-founded by legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady. The partnership is the next step in Autograph’s efforts to evolve the fan experience and brings the company further into gaming. SimWin will allow users to purchase virtual players to compete on one of 32 teams owned by some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, including Autograph’s Boston Legends. SimWin is poised to bring fans a new level of excitement and engagement worldwide, allowing them to watch, predict, collect and play.
Roku Rolls Out Women’s Sports Zone
Roku Inc. is meeting the rising demand for women’s sports coverage by launching a Women’s Sports Zone, making women’s sports more accessible. The Women’s Sports Zone will feature live and upcoming women’s sporting events as well as female-focused documentaries, movies and other content from supporting channels across the platform. This new zone provides streaming, live broadcast, and educational content options all in one place, eliminating the time it takes fans to locate their favorite teams and sporting events. Plus, content within the zone will be curated based on users’ viewing habits and favorite teams.