SailGP to hit the water with global coverage and Rolex on board
By Jonathan Rest
SailGP, the new annual sailing series, is to be shown in 90 countries across five continents when it gets under way in Sydney later this week, with luxury Swiss watchmaker Rolex signed up as the inaugural sponsor.
In the six participating countries, Canal Plus, BT Sport and Sky, the pay-television broadcasters in France, the UK and New Zealand, respectively, have all secured exclusive live rights, as has OTT streaming platform DAZN in Japan. Sky NZ will show some racing on its free-to-air channel Prime.
Sportcal revealed last October that Fox Sports, the Australian pay-TV broadcaster, had come on board as the first rights partner in a three-year deal brokered by Talisman Sports and Media, the media rights agency launched at the end of 2016 by Simon Thomas and Andrew Guy.
All rights-holders will show the action across their linear and digital offerings, supplemented by SailGP’s mobile application.
In USA, racing will air live on Facebook alongside full access on the SailGP app, set to be released this week, with a broadcast partner poised to sign up before the 15 February start in Sydney.
Sportcal understands the US TV rights-holder will broadcast on a delayed basis to suit time zones.
The SailGP app will offer a multi-feed, data-rich service that will allow viewers to watch the host broadcast with 11 feeds featuring onboard coverage from each boat.
Chinese fans will be able to access live coverage in Mandarin on Tencent’s qq.com, while pay-TV's SuperSport will show the action across sub-Saharan Africa.
Other pan-regional rights-holders include Fox Sports Asia and the Nordic Entertainment Group in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
In addition, Arena Sport will provide Balkan racing fans with coverage, while, in Israel, Charlton’s Sport channels will show the events.
Russell Coutts, chief executive of SailGP, said: “We’re very fortunate to have such a dynamic group of broadcast partners that will bring our new and redefined form of sailing to expanded audiences around the globe. Using the latest technology and through these valuable partnerships, we will deliver a broadcast and digital product that caters to modern consumption habits and brings our sport to life in a way that hasn’t been done before.”
The host broadcast is being handled by Whisper Films, the UK-based production firm that has produced Channel 4’s Formula 1 and 2018 winter Paralympic Games coverage.
Following the Sydney opener, the boats will move to San Francisco (4 to 5 May), New York (21 to 22 June), Cowes in England (10 to 11 August) and Marseille in France (20 to 22 September).
Along with the involvement of Coutts, the former chief executive of the America's Cup Event Authority, SailGP has the backing of Larry Ellison, the US billionaire co-founder of software giant Oracle Corporation, a long-time investor in sailing.
In October, Oracle, Louis Vuitton, the fashion house and long-time America’s Cup partner, and Land Rover, the automotive group that previously sponsored Great Britain's Ben Ainslie Racing team, were all unveiled as series sponsors of SailGP, and they have been joined today by Rolex, as presenting partner and official timekeeper.
Rolex has a long heritage in sailing, and has put its name to the World Sailor of the Year Award since 2001.