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MIGRATION, TOURISM AND NEAR-UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO BROADCASTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA HAVE UNLOCKED BILLIONS OF POTENTIAL FANS — but they don’t live in your city, and don’t necessarily speak your language. The next 10 years will be a gold rush, as professional teams and leagues race to claim this emerging audience.

A New Globalization Backbone

In order to reach global markets and capitalize on their remote fanbase, a new “globalization backbone” for the sports industry will emerge.

Sports franchises were their own experts in their metropolitan markets— they had the staff and relationships. But to market themselves nationally, they naturally grew to partner with infrastructure companies who had nationwide expertise and relationships. Apparel-licensing companies (Nike), sponsorship agencies (IMG), ticketing networks (Live Nation), talent representation (Octagon).

Today, in order to reach global markets and capitalize on their remote fanbase, pro franchises won’t be able to fly solo. A new “globalization backbone” for the sports industry will emerge. By serving (or owning) multiple franchises and leagues, those who develop early, real expertise in transcontinental markets will grow and become the durable infrastructure others rely on.

Need someone to find you a corporate sponsor in India? Need someone to add play-by-play commentary in 20 languages to your video feed? Need someone to sell your luxury box packages to tourists from Japan? Can’t get on a French television channel but want to be available via IPTV? Playing an exhibition game in Beijing and need to know who can move all the tickets? If video pirates in Croatia are stealing your signal, who do you call?

Just as MLB’s app and streaming service eventually grew into a diverse multisport and entertainment company that Disney has invested over a billion dollars in, it’s those who can actually get things done in international markets who will become the lynchpins others need. With this enormous potential developing, we’re witnessing mega-deals all over the globe. New money is coming in from the tech and venture industries, from Hollywood agencies, from Chinese billionaires and from pro athletes who’ve amassed fortunes. Since major sports teams rarely come up for sale, this money finds emerging opportunities wherever they appear—the new global sports markets.


  • WME and Silver Lake Partners first buy IMG, then buy UFC.
  • Dalian Wanda Group buys Infront Media (World Cup rights), Atletico Madrid, Ironman events.
  • Alibaba Sports takes over AC Milan and Guangzhou Evergrande FC, then makes deal with World Rugby to develop 1 million Chinese rugby players in a decade.
  • Chinese investors Everbright and Baofeng take 65% stake in MP and Silva (Grand Slam tennis, NFL in Europe, Formula 1 and EHF handball).


  • Tencent (already has NBA rights)?
  • CAA?
  • Lakshmi Mittal or Mukesh Ambani from India?


  • Irdeto B.V. (anti-piracy)?
  • A ticket reseller ($8 billion market)?
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