Interview: Skweek, the burgenoning behemoth of basketball broadcasting

Skweek CEO Oleg Petrov

Skweek may have just secured the broadcasting rights for the Betlic Elite until 2030, but the Monegasque business and its CEO Oleg Petrov have even loftier ambitions.

Last week, Petrov spoke in a roundtable interview, attended by Monaco Life, about Skweek’s first year, which given their acquisition of the broadcasting rights for the Euroleague, EuroCup and now the LNB Betclic Elite, can only be appraised positively. However, there are more markets to conquer, and Skweek’s ambition to do just that is evident.

What are your initial reactions to the agreement signed between the Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB), Skweek and L’Équipe?

We are very happy to have signed this contract with L’Équipe and the LNB for the French Championship. It is an important step for us. We are very young as a team, as a platform. It’s only been one year. From the first day, our interest has always been to unite French basketball because we really believe in the future of basketball in France and generally in Europe. It is a popular sport that is worthy of more exposure and more attention in Europe. There are lots of opportunities. The idea is to develop the NBA’s culture here in Europe; for now, the US is the king. We are committed to creating a big show, a great sporting spectacle, because France has a lot of talent. French players play at an American championship level. There is a strong base of young talent in France.

What has changed in the past year for you to gain the confidence of the LNB to allow you to win the broadcasting rights for future seasons? 

I think we have shown the commitment we have to the job. I think everything that we spoke about at the start, we have pulled off: the dedication, investment, effort, and respect for every party, a great desire to deliver results… We tried to convince the LNB and all the relevant bodies that we are a solid partner that is worthy of trust and worthy of this opportunity.

Can you comment on the figures reported in L’Equipe on Friday morning, which talk about a deal worth €2.5m per year? Could you also comment on the existence of an exit clause, which has also been reported… 

We don’t usually comment on figures. I can say that it is a considerable investment. In terms of the contract, we wanted a longer one than the seven-year one that we got. We wanted a contract of more like 10 years. L’Équipe couldn’t guarantee for over five years. It isn’t for a lack of will. L’Équipe wasn’t capable of or didn’t want to sign a longer contract. They may be able to extend further, however.

What is the strategy for further growth? 

Getting a lot of subscribers is the goal. With our interesting, attractive platform, we can bring in considerable sponsors and well-known brands and partners. At Skweek, we want to concentrate on the youth, the progress of a star: following that path from a small team to a professional team, to a Euroleague team, to a national and then an international team.

Photo credit: Stéphane Danna

We already have a good partnership with Adidas, with whom we covered the Eurocamp tournament. We are working together and have done coverage of the young Euroleague Final Four in Kaunas. That didn’t come about by chance, it is part of our strategy of focusing on the upcoming talents. The idea is to create this ecosystem of young stars and also develop partnerships with brands. These partnerships are important.

Are there designs on acquiring the NBA rights with the current deal with BeIn Sport expiring in 2024? 

Certainly, there is an interest. We accept that BeIn have a lot more experience and considerable financial means, but we are interested. I think there is another year so we will follow that closely.

And for other competitions in France and Europe as well? 

Women’s Basketball is of great interest to us. We have already spoken about it. There is a lot of opportunity there. We’ve seen that in football as well. France, as a basketball country, is the strategy, so acquiring anything we can here is the main objective. After that, youth competitions in other countries are very interesting. England could be an interesting market for us as we believe there are lots of opportunities there that are yet to be developed.

And, as you take a further step into broadcasting the game domestically, was it important to do so with a brand like L’Équipe that is already very much part of the landscape? 

Definitely. We already have had a good experience with L’Équipe. They are a strong brand, very well known here in France. Professionally I am very happy with the exchanges and the ideas and approaches. We’re speaking a lot and we don’t always agree, but there is a good strategy. Together with L’Équipe, this strong brand, we can do a lot.



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Photo credit: Philippe Fitte