London-based sports website network Sportal has formed an alliance
with Italian media giant Fininvest.
The deal gives Fininvest a minority stake in Sportal. The network, which
is preparing to launch sites in Italy and Spain in January, will provide
content for Fininvest’s websites. The media company will promote Sportal
through its Mediaset TV channels in Italy and Spain, its Mondadori print
products and its free access internet service Jumpy.
The alliance builds upon an existing relationship between Sportal and
the AC Milan football club, which Fininvest owns.
Sportal’s founder and CEO Robert Hersov believes the partnership will
give his company an edge over other new-media concerns expanding into
Europe. ’We believe Sportal can set the pace for web sports content in
both Italy and Spain, where internet usage is intense but as yet
confined to a comparatively small segment of the population,’ he
He said the Fininvest link would give the Sportal brand access to sports
fans whether they were ’on the web, watching television, reading a
magazine, using a wireless device or at Milan’s San Siro stadium’.
Founded in 1998, Sportal is developing a worldwide network of websites
in partnership with sports groups and also under its own brand name. As
well as London, Sportal has offices in ten cities worldwide, including
Paris, Milan, Melbourne, Cape Town and Hong Kong.
The company recently lured Daniel Ward-Lee from the Electronic Telegraph
to join the sports network as commercial manager (Media Business, 15
He is building up a sales team.
Mario Luzzi, the CEO of Europortal Investments - Fininvest’s internet
holding company - said the deal was an important step in its strategy of
building a leading European network of internet properties.