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SportsMax, Digicel brands demerge

Published:Friday | January 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
Oliver McIntosh, head of SportsMax.
Antonia Graham, the head of public relations for Digicel Group.

Effective immediately, the Digicel brand name has been divorced from its sports television business, SportsMax.

That message was conveyed in correspondence to the sports channel's partners and affiliates dated January 20.

Head of group public relations at Digicel Group, Antonia Graham, said the split did not mean Digicel is no longer associated with the SportsMax channels, as was initially speculated once the information began to circulate.

She described the move as mimicing the structure of international media conglo-merates such as NBC, whose name is not typically appended to the entities it owns.

"This is a non-story. This is a simple branding decision in line with branding practice in media across the globe," said Graham.

"Since Digicel and SportsMax have come together, we have increased our sports content twofold with highlights like the NBA, La Liga, Caribbean Cup and our continued investment in youth sports like the first-time broadcast of Trinidad high-school football and ISSA football in Jamaica. The relationship between Digicel and SportsMax is a great, growing and fruitful one," she said.

SportsMax CEO Oliver McIntosh said the move was all part of a process of evaluation.

"It's just a continual evaluation of brands, and when it makes sense we change and when it doesn't make sense then we don't make a change. There is really nothing to it other than this is a reversion to the SportsMax brand, " McIntosh said

Well-placed sources say the name change is meant to avoid any complication regarding Digicel Group's newest outfit, cable company DigicelPlay, and the operations of SportsMax.

DigicelPlay, the telecom's built out fibre-to-the-home operation that began life as TelStar, is a direct competitor of FLOW's cable business, while SportsMax's content is offered on FLOW.

It's also understood that SportsMax is about to launch a third channel - SportsMax3 - but Graham would not be drawn, saying there was nothing to announce.

McIntosh was also non-committal, but he did say there were limitations to what is possible with just two channels.

"It all depends ... . It's really driven by what the consumer wants. I can't comment on a SportsMax3 because it is part of a list being considered as to how exactly and what's the best way to bring (content) across," he said.

In its January 20 correspondence announcing the demerging of the brands, SportsMax advised that the changes were to take effect across all platforms.

"In an effort to continue to supply exciting and exclusive sports content to our subscribers and be the best partners to our affiliates, Digicel SportsMax and Digicel SportsMax2 will revert to their original names SportsMax and SportsMax2. Effective immediately, we ask that you make this change in all instances where the channel/s are mentioned, that is, websites, social media pages, barker channels, on screen slates, newsletters, pamphlets, promotional items etc," SportsMax said.

The circular asked that the information be kept out of the public domain to facilitate a seamless transition.

The reverted labels and logos have been in full effect since Monday and all references on social media followed suit.

Digicel Group bought a majority stake in International Media Content Limited, the parent company of regional broadcasting company SportsMax and North American broadcaster CEEN-TV, in December 2014.

Neither the acquisition price nor the size of Digicel's ownership were disclosed. McIntosh said at the time that alongside Digicel, SportsMax still had 67 minority shareholders.