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One partnership’s end is another’s virtual beginning

Breaking up is never easy, but for virtual sports portal Jimungo, it’s hoping there’s plenty more sponsorship fish in the sea. The website, allowing players to pit themselves against mates, work colleagues and strangers, by virtually picking sporting winners, is fresh out of a partnership with the NZ Rugby Union (NZRU)—a relationship that lasted ten fruitful years.

General manager Simon Massey, who joined Jimungo late last year, says although the partnership with the NZRU provided New Zealand with its first taste of virtual rugby, it was bound in restrictions.

“The NZRU’s restrictions around which sponsors and advertisers were allowed on the site held back Jimungo’s ability to fully exploit the game’s popularity,” says Massey.  “It also meant the Jimungo brand was pushed to the background in favour of a virtual rugby identity.”

Jimungo reports that in rugby alone, 110,000 players have grouped themselves into 4,600 micro-communities, linked together by a common interest in sport, often underpinned by workplace or social connections.

That’s a lot of numbers and Massey’s keen to point out that they’re not “just a random bunch of eyeballs”. He says there’s ten years of real audience data that makes for a powerful marketing tool. The data can be finely sliced to get an advertising message in front of exactly the right audience.

“…we know how our players behave, where they spend time, their age profiles, where they’re from and what their interests are,” says Massey.

With the rugby Super 15 kicking off tonight, Jimungo is anticipating a surge of player sign-ups.

As well as virtual rugby, the company says that last year more than 250,000 Kiwis played virtual rugby union, rugby league, netball and English Premier League football on its site.

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