World Boxing Super Series chief commercial officer makes sharp exit
By Martin Ross
Roger Lodewick, chief commercial officer at World Boxing Super Series, the new tournament set up by industry heavyweights, has left just five months after taking up the position.
Lodewick left the Team Marketing agency in March to take up a role in Zurich selling rights to the new boxing series, but has now departed.
In a joint statement, Lodewick and Comosa AG, the Switzerland-based company behind the series, told Sportcal: “By mutual agreement we have decided to terminate the collaboration, as there were incompatible strategic visions and professional expectations.”
The series, which kicked off in Berlin in September, is also backed by Modern Times Group, the Sweden-based media group, promoter Sauerland and Highlight Event and Entertainment, the marketer of music and sports events, while the MP & Silva agency was brought in to sell the broadcast rights.
Along with experienced boxing promoters Kalle Sauerland and Richard Schaefer, the series, which offers $50 million in prize money, involves Roberto Dalmiglio, former chief commercial officer at MP & Silva and head of Comosa’s management board.
Lodewick spent 12 years at Team, arriving in 2005 as an event operations manager within the venue management team and then moving on to play a key role in media rights sales in markets such as the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Turkey and Israel.
While the Dutchman’s surprise exit appears to be down to strategic differences between Comosa and himself, the news is sure to bring into focus the commercial challenges facing the WBSS.
Sponsorship sales remain slow as the nascent venture builds up its broadcast footprint, with those marketing the series holding out for long-term deals in order to protect the value of the packages.
So far, StubHub, the online ticket exchange, is the only company to receive commercial inventory across all fights, after being named as the series’ official ticketing and marketplace partner.
Kurzurlaub, the Germany holiday booking website, and Favbet, the Ukrainian betting operator, were signed up as local sponsors of the first fight night in Berlin, while Gazi, the Turkish dairy products manufacturer, was a sponsor of last weekend’s clash featuring Turkish fighter Avni Yildirim.
The security of a minimum guarantee arrived through a deal with MP & Silva to sell broadcast rights in all markets outside USA and Scandinavia, although the WBSS team is understood to have stepped in and landed deals in a couple of key markets directly given the tight turnaround between the draw in July and opener in September.
Rights deals in large parts of Asia have not been forthcoming, although those would not necessarily be expected until a lighter weight class is added (the inaugural season features the cruiserweight and super middleweight classes).
An overview of World Boxing Super Series’ commercial model is included in the latest edition of Sportcal Insight magazine, which can be read here.