LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment business is stepping up its involvement with cycling’s Team Sky, a further sign that big companies want to be associated with the sport as it recovers from a series of doping scandals.
Team Sky will add the 21st Century Fox brand to the riders’ kit and support vehicles when the Tour de France begins this weekend, the team said in a statement on Wednesday.
21st Century Fox is the media and entertainment company that will be created on Friday when Murdoch’s News Corp empire is split into two separate businesses.
The new company will also increase its minority stake in the team to become an equal 50 percent shareholder with founder BSkyB. The Team Sky name will be retained.
“It’s a great time to increase our commitment to Team Sky and to add the support of an exciting new entertainment brand,” said James Murdoch, News Corp’s deputy chief operating officer.
British pay TV company BSkyB, itself part-owned by News Corp, launched Team Sky in 2010 and was rewarded last year when Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour.
Marketing experts say that cycling offers excellent value for money for sponsors if they are prepared to trust that it is putting its doping past behind it.
Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Tony Goodson