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Juventus want earlier kick-off times to grow Asia audience, Konami sign Serie A deal and Celtic enter Call of Duty championships

15:04 GMT+3 23/08/2019
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The Old Lady wants more Far East exposure, while there has been big news on the video game front

Goal rounds up the top business stories of the week from Soccerex, including the reasons behind Juventus' suggestion that earlier kick-off times could help them and other Serie A teams to grow in Asia, Konami announcing that the Serie A licence is coming to PES 2020 and Celtic enter the Call of Duty World League Championship...

Juventus want earlier kick-off times to grow Asian audience

Juventus Chief Revenue Officer, Giorgio Ricci has urged Serie A to schedule more early kick-offs to help the club grow their audience in Asia.

The 2019-20 Serie A season gets underway on Saturday, and the first two weeks will see all games start no earlier than 6pm local time, which is midnight in Beijing. From the third round onwards, one game every Sunday will begin at 12:30pm, while there will also be one 3pm kick-off slot on Saturdays.

In contrast, the Premier League and La Liga both stage matches earlier in the day to maximise their viewership in Asia, and Ricci has called on Serie A to revise its traditional model of playing games in the evening so that its clubs can compete for eyeballs with Europe’s other major soccer competitions.

“We have to find the right balance between domestic and global audiences,” Ricci told the BBC.

“It is not just about the broadcasting times, it is also about the rights distribution and who is showing the games.

“In that sense, the difference between the Premier League and Serie A is huge.

“This is a very old story and one of the more frequent reasons for fights with the league.”

A Serie A spokesman, also speaking to the BBC, agreed that the league needs to be “taking into consideration every place in the world because Serie A is broadcast in 200 territories”.

However, Juventus will be forced to wait for any potential changes to Serie A’s kick-off times, with the league’s new domestic broadcast deals not set to take effect until the 2021-22 season.

Until then, Juventus are looking to build their brand in Asia through other means, and this summer saw them play friendly games in Singapore, China and South Korea as part of their pre-season preparations for the new campaign.

Juventus have also officially opened a new office in Hong Kong to serve the Asia-Pacific region. Three of the club’s global partners – Konami, Ganten and Linglong – are Asian companies, while they also have two regional partners in Asia in the form of China Merchants Bank and Costa Cruises.

Serie A award Konami full licensing deal

Serie A has agreed a partnership with Konami which sees the Pro Evolution Soccer pubisher secure non-exclusive rights to the league’s imagery and competition names.

The agreement allows Konami to feature a fully licensed Serie A on its upcoming eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 title, including the body’s logo, trophy, and associated badges in the latest edition of the gaming franchise.

In doing so, the developer lays another marker in its rivalry with EA Sports, creators of the FIFA series, after securing exclusive rights to Juventus, who announced in July they had joined PES 2020.

The move effectively ended a 25-year relationship with EA, which still holds exclusive licensing rights to England’s Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga. The FIFA gaming title also renewed its partnership with Spain's top-flight, La Liga, through the end of the 2023-24 season, having held exclusive rights to the league’s branding for the past three years.

Konami said in a statement that its latest activation with Serie A is part of its plans ‘to deliver the most realistic football gaming experience of the year to home consoles’.

Konami already holds licences for Serie A clubs including Inter and AC Milan in addition to new agreements with other European giants, including fresh deals with Manchester United, Barcelona and Arsenal, as well as a platinum partnership with German champions Bayern Munich

Celtic enter Call of Duty esports

Celtic have added to their esports division by signing a team to compete in the ongoing Call of Duty World League Championship.

Previously, Celtic FC Esports have only competed in the football simulation eFootball.Pro League, finishing runner-up in the inaugural edition, but are now evaluating the possibility of expanding into other titles.

Call of Duty developer Activision is currently hosting the seventh edition of the World League Championship at the Pauley Pavilion, home to the UCLA Bruins basketball team in Los Angeles, with Celtic one of 32 teams competing for a prize pool worth $2 million (£1.6m/€1.8m).

Announcing the new Call of Duty team, Celtic said that the World League Championship, offers them increased exposure before Activision converts the tournament to a city-based franchise model.

Miguel Pacheco, Celtic’s International Business Development manager, said: “This is a great opportunity in an esports area where we see almost no engagement from professional football clubs or traditional sports organisations.

"As we continue to develop and grow our Celtic FC Esports initiative, we are delighted to be able to support the team in such a high-profile esports event which has been incredibly successful in recent years."