|Richard Worth - Chairman, America's Cup|
|Profile of the week|
Sunday, 20 November 2011 19:34
Richard Worth is a former CEO of T.E.A.M. Marketing and Sportfive, with a 36-year history in sports broadcasting and sports marketing, which also includes a 20-year association with ITV. He was appointed Chairman of the 34th America's Cup Event Authority in October 2010.
Worth joined ITV in 1975, and worked in an editorial capacity on all of the network’s top level sports programming, culminating in Executive Producer responsibility for most of ITV’s sports output.
Worth joined T.E.A.M. Marketing in 1995, playing a leading role in developing the commercial success story of the UEFA Champions League.
His role in delivering substantial television rights sales, and improving television distribution worldwide grew to becoming CEO with responsibility to oversee the integration of television and sponsorship strategies for the UEFA Champions League and other UEFA competitions.
From October 2007 to June 2009, Worth was Group CEO of Europe’s largest sports marketing agency, the Groupe Lagardere-owned Sportfive, a multinational with 450 employees worldwide. Worth secured a 15-year marketing partnership with Juventus FC and a historic TV sales partnership with the IOC for TV rights in Europe for the Olympic Games of 2014 (winter) and 2016 (summer).
Immediately prior to joining ACEA, Worth was advising leading football associations and media companies on securing major events and developing successful sports marketing strategies.
You’ve been Chairman of the Americas Cup for about a year now, what has been the biggest challenge so far?
We had the concept but no office, no telephone, no people. The biggest challenge was building everything. A year later we’ve already had two events, we’ve got some broadcasters onsite, we’re building a sponsorship programme. We’ve got an office in San Francisco, there’s an office of our sister organisation in Southampton. There’s been a lot of hard work so the challenge has been going from zero to having several events; successful ones, in a year. The next challenge is even bigger: to build Americas Cup 34 to the best ever. We’re confident we can do that.
What are you doing to ensure the 34th Americas Cup will be the best ever?
The transformation of the sport as a broad consumer media product; moving it out of its elitist base and making it become something much more viewer participant friendly. We will get a lot of people; we saw it in Plymouth, who come to the events and enjoy the events. In San Francisco, we’re expecting over the final three months, hundreds of thousands of people to be engaged with what’s going on.
The biggest market is through the media outlets, not everybody can afford, or have the luxury, to come so it is developing the property of the Americas Cup and sailing at the elite level to make it much more accessible to everybody and, in a subsidiary sense, understandable, interesting; something you can engage with. We are doing that with contemporary use of graphics that explain a sport that has never been properly explained before, in a very different way. Unless you can do that, you’re not going to capture a new audience. What we want to do, particularly with broadcasters and sponsorship, is to engage new groups of people who say “I never realised it was this interesting.” I think we’ve already proven after two events it is a sport that can develop and be exciting, and be understandable.
Do you have a particular demographic in mind, or is your aim to promote sailing and the Americas Cup to as many people as possible?
There’s no exclusion of this or that group. The kind of people who came to Plymouth to watch the event in September included everybody: mixture of gender, mixture of age. Kids to old aged pensioners, people who’d never watched sailing before were suddenly engaged in it. We gave them the right facilities. They could see the racing going on in front of them, they could hear the commentary, they could see the big screen so they could work out who’s ahead, who’s behind. That shows you don’t have to be too specific about your audience. Historically, the sailing audience has been relatively wealthy people, people interested in boats, but not a lot of people have that opportunity; not a lot of people live by the sea, so there’s a vast number of people who’ve been brought into this by making the sport and the Americas cup events really attractive.
What do you believe is the most interesting aspect of the Americas Cup as a competition?
I love the history. It goes back over 160 years. If you read the history and understand about some of the incredible names and families and people that we know in our everyday lives that were involved in Americas Cup history, it’s amazing. Beyond that, the really interesting thing is being able to develop something for the longer term which can leave a mark in sport for the future; the Americas Cup offers that opportunity because not so much has been done in the past. We’re harnessing technology, which hasn’t been available and affordable in the past. There’s real opportunity there to take the Americas Cup and make it truly exciting for everybody.
Do you have a particular favourite moment from the competition’s history?
The one that I’ve got images in mind of is in Newport in 1983, when Australia took it away from America for the first time after 132 years that the Americans had had it. Everybody went crazy because it was not America’s Americas Cup anymore; it was Australia’s Americas cup. That’s really stuck in my mind. It was a real piece of sporting history.