Ironman in multi-year extension of live coverage deal with Facebook Watch
Ironman, the long-distance triathlon organiser owned by Dalian Wanda, the China-based multinational conglomerate, has agreed a multi-year deal with Facebook Watch, the social media giant’s video service, to continue as its exclusive digital home for fully-produced live race coverage.
Ironman said that Facebook Watch, which partnered with Ironman for the first time last year, attracting 4.5 million engagements, will show 17 live events in 2019, increasing to 19 events in 2020, with a third-year option for 22 events in 2021.
This includes full live coverage of the Ironman World Championship and shorter-distance 70.3 World Championship, as well as video-on-demand recaps of every event broadcast on Facebook Watch.
In 2018, more than 3.5 million people watched at least one minute of an Ironman live broadcast, ranking it among the top sports organisations programming on Facebook across the year, according to Ironman.
Ironman said that it will “produce its live coverage for a connected audience, incorporating unique viewer interaction through Facebook Watch Parties, real-time polls, fan discussion, and user-generated content from spectators along the course.”
Devi Mahadevia, Facebook North America’s sports programming lead, said: “Participatory sports are a great fit for Facebook Watch because they're highly communal with established and engaged fanbases on our platform. Ironman is a perfect example, so we're thrilled to build on the success of our 2018 partnership by teaming again to bring fans around the world full-length coverage of the competition's top events.”
Matthieu van Veen, chief revenue officer of Ironman, said: “The partnership with Facebook has given us the unique ability to showcase our sport to a global audience while taking them inside the inner workings of race day. With events on every continent and in more than 50 countries, we continuously strive to provide our athletes, fans and sponsors with content and platforms to connect.
“Facebook Watch provides the most innovative tools to allow our community to interact and engage throughout the 10 hours of live coverage for each of the events. The numbers from our Facebook Watch programing in 2018 are astounding and illustrate the deep interest and reach of our world class events. We look forward to our continued work with Facebook in bringing a truly global schedule of live event coverage to our broadening community.”
In January, Dalian Wanda filed for an initial public offering in USA for its sports unit, which is dominated by the Infront sports marketing agency.
The IPO could fetch between $300 million and $500 million, it has been reported.
A government-led crackdown on overseas deals and high leverage has forced major Chinese companies like Wanda to reconsider their investment portfolios. Over the past year, Wanda has been offloading domestic and overseas holdings, including stakes in cinema operator AMC Entertainment and Spanish soccer club Atlético Madrid and a handful of property developments.