IMG, the international sports and entertainment agency, announced today that it is to sell the global media rights to Nitro Athletics, the new athletics team event pioneered by nine-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt.
The agreement excludes Australia, where commercial network Seven is already signed up as the host and domestic broadcaster of the Nitro Athletics Melbourne, the inaugural event slated for the evenings of 4, 9 and 11 February.
One more Nitro event is planned for 2017, with four or five more to be staged in 2018 and 2019. In Melbourne, six teams of 24 athletes will participate in non-traditional events such as middle-distance and hurdles relays. Jamaican Bolt will captain an ‘all-stars’ team against England, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Charlotte Brigel, head of sales and operations, IMG Media Australia, said: “Nitro Athletics is an incredibly innovative and exciting concept, and one that will give sport an entirely fresh perspective. There is already worldwide interest from broadcasters on this new concept, which features some of the world’s top athletes.”
Athletics Australia president, Mark Arbib, who has played a leading role in bringing the Nitro series to reality, added: “Nitro Athletics is the sports entertainment product track and field needs to move athletics beyond the existing format of one-day meets. Nitro Athletics will be a catalyst for how athletics is presented. It’s a game-changer. We want to start the global reinvigoration of athletics right here in Australia.”
Last week, the Nitro series was backed by Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, track and field’s governing body, who said: “We need brave, bold ideas that engage fans in events. Athletics is a global sport with a global following, but we need events that bring back the fun, the kids and the crowds and… add a different dimension to the record-setting events like the world championships.
“Nitro Athletics is a great example of what can be done and what needs to be done to revolutionise how we present our sport and how our fans connect with the sport and the athletes.”