Fledgling SailGP valued at $200m after Endeavor takes minority stake
By Jonathan Rest
Endeavor, the former Hollywood talent agency that has developed into a global entertainment, sport and content company, today acquired a minority stake in SailGP, the nascent international sailing series.
The level of Endeavor's investment and the size of the stake purchased is not known, but it values SailGP at $200 million heading into its second season.
SailGP launched in late 2018, with the first season taking place in 2019, and has been underwritten to date by Larry Ellison, the US billionaire software tycoon.
SailGP said it will benefit from access to the Endeavor network’s "expertise across content production, media rights distribution, creative services, licensing, sponsorships and consumer marketing."
At present, the series' media rights are sold internationally by Talisman Sports and Media, the media rights agency launched at the end of 2016 by Simon Thomas and Andrew Guy, former global executives at the international television business of 21st Century Fox. Thomas is now chief commercial officer at Fifa.
Endeavor owns the IMG sports marketing agency, which has previously distributed media rights for the Extreme Sailing Series, the now discontinued international ‘stadium racing’ circuit, and Ocean Race, the round-the-world sailing event.
Sportcal understands that Talisman will continue to market SailGP's rights, and will be supported by IMG and Endeavor.
Sir Russell Coutts, the champion sailor and chief executive of SailGP, said: “Endeavor’s partnership with SailGP represents a pivotal moment in our young and developing history. It strengthens our position going into our second season and signals the projected long-term value of SailGP. This is the start of a new era in our sport, and we couldn’t have a better partner than Endeavor.”
Mark Shapiro, president of Endeavor, added: “SailGP is transforming the way people view sailing. For the first time, the sport is being packaged in a broadly appealing, consumable, consistent and exciting format, bringing it in line with some of the world’s top sporting events. If the first season is any indication, SailGP has incredible potential and strong value for its partners, and we look forward to helping forge the future of the league.”
Taking a stake in SailGP is a further demonstration of Endeavor's ambitions in sport following the indefinite postponement last September of a listing on the New York Stock Exchange amid unfavourable market conditions
As well as IMG, Endeavor owns UFC, the popular mixed martial arts series, and Professional Bull Riders, the international bull riding circuit, and at the turn of the year completed the acquisition of On Location Experiences, the premium hospitality business, for a reported $660 million.
The second season of SailGP gets under way in Sydney on 28 February, with other events in San Francisco, New York, Cowes in the UK and Copenhagen in Denmark. SailGP is working on a sixth race, which could be added to the calendar.
Australia will be looking to defend its title, with the UK, Japan, USA and France all returning for 2020, along with new entrants Denmark and Spain, which is replacing China.
According to data released by SailGP last year, the inaugural season attracted more than 133,000 spectators and a total global event audience of 1.8 billion across broadcast, social, press and in-venue audiences.
The total economic impact across the five host cities (the same as for 2020 but with Marseille instead of Copenhagen) was $115 million.
Speaking exclusively to the Sportcal Insight magazine in December, Coutts said SailGP would be much more aggressive in its sales approach ahead of season two, noting: “It’s amazing how quickly it all came together. We have moved from being a start-up to a fully-fledged sports championship that has proven it can run events in multiple locations around the world.
“We are now going to move into marketing this a lot more extensively and aggressively. It’s about creating compelling content between events, more awareness about our athletes and some of the technology we have.”