Former IMG pair launch new media rights agency

06 Jul 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

Former IMG pair Ben Nicholas and Nick Chesworth, and former Commercial Director, Premiership Rugby, Dominic Hayes, have launched a new independent media rights agency, River Media Partners.

Chesworth spent 15 years at IMG and was in charge of the agency’s dealings with the likes of World Rugby, Wimbledon and the IOC, while Nicholas was most recently SVP, Head of Digital at the agency. Hayes spent eight years in his role at Premiership Rugby, having joined in 2012 from WWE, where he was SVP and Managing Director, International

River Media will work to create and distribute content globally, and will initially work with the RFU on projects such as rugby’s Greene King Championship and the women’s Premier 15 as well as with other clients including BT Sport Films, Premier Sports and Stats Perform.

“While the global pandemic has underlined the value of live sport to the consumer and to media platforms, it has also highlighted the fragility of sports finance,” said Chesworth. 

“The disruption of schedules and formats have meant that innovation, agility and streamlined costs have become incredibly important. These are the cornerstones of our proposition.”

“My own view is that the time is exactly right for an agency that has clear, stripped-back thinking and direct client interaction at its core. River Media brings together three of the best and most respected men in the business. Their vast experience and in-depth knowledge of global markets makes them a go-to for anyone seeking to establish a place at the top table of sport.”

In addition, the new agency has appointed Malcolm Wall, former CEO, Virgin Media Content,  as Chairman while former Hampshire cricket captain Mark Nicholas and Aidan Cooney, Founder and CEO, digital agency InCrowd Sport, who also founded Opta, have been named Non-Executive Directors.

Wall said: “The sports market is in flux and traditional agency models are under review. We will be working with client and partner agendas front of mind as they seek to drive exposure, relevance and commercial return in the evolving market. Having worked across all areas of the commercial sports model, from traditional media rights deals to complex corporate funding propositions, the agency is ideally placed to enable clients to navigate the sector.”