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Leaders New York 2015: Day 2

Owen Evans reports from day two of the 2015 Leaders Sport Business Summit in New York.


Discovery Communications president and chief executive David Zaslav (pictured right) set tongues wagging on the second day of the Leaders event in New York when he suggested that the English Premier League should rip up a domestic media rights formula that recently secured morethan £5 billion in rights-fees from its existing broadcast partners.

"The Premier League should have given 70 per cent of the games to BT/Sky, and then held back 30 per cent for us to create a Premier League channel," he told delegates, adding that Discovery is currently using its Eurosport arm to set up bespoke channels for sports in strategic markets in Europe. "There are lots of ways we can use that model. For instance, we could create the Eurosport Curling channel."

There were rumours that Discovery considered entering the recent domestic Premier League rights auction after a recent attempt to acquire Serie A rights in Italy. However, Zaslav claimed Discovery is only focusing on boosting its sports portfolio by focusing on niche sports in key markets at present.


There is a set menu of questions Qatar 2022 secretary general, Hassan Al-Thawadi (pictured below, right), always has to face when he puts in a speaker appearance at a sports industry event.

Considering all the negative press Qatar has received, would you do it all over again given the chance? (Absolutely). What do you think about the proposed winter World Cup? (That is FIFA's decision). What about the stories of appalling migrant worker conditions on World Cup construction sites? (We are addressing those conditions). And so on.

Anyone who has seen Al-Thawadi speak will know that the former Scunthorpe resident (he studied his A-Levels at West Common Lane in Lincolnshire) is exceptionally polished and always manages to keep his cool when working his way through the media set menu. Unfortunately though, as a journalist, it can leave you short of a decent story despite him being one of the most influential men in the sports industry at the moment.

One interesting note this time around, however, was Al-Thawadi revealing his strategy for the fan experience at the 2022 World Cup, describing the options for fans to explore the coastal attractions on the peninsular both in Qatar and, more importantly, its neighbouring countries. Could this be the first sign of a sporting co-operation in the Gulf peninsula that could potentially form part of a future pan-Arab bid for the Olympic Games, should Qatar decide to bid again?


Leaders prides itself in providing thought-provoking content to shape the way the sports industry evolves long into the future. In that vein, special mention should go to Joe Favorito, the United States sports PR veteran who donned a pink jumper with royal blue piping among the sharp-suited executives from New York and beyond at this year's Leaders Sport Business Summit. In an event where brands, broadcasters and rights-holders were all asking the question "how do you stand out from the crowd?", Favorito's sartorial strategy was a back-to-basics initiative on a well-worn routine.

And it worked.

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