Claude Ruibal, "40 Years of Learning in Sports"


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Claude Ruibal is another true Legend in our industry, with nearly 40 years across multiple major companies and roles over his career. It’s a bit longer than the usual podcast as it was impossible to put four decades of incredible experiences in the usual 60 min. Hang in there, it’s worth every minute, learn from his stories, from his early days at the LA 84 Olympics to his roles at ISL, Coca-Cola, Universal Sports Network, YouTube, Infront to now consulting with start-ups.

Key Highlights

  1. Early days, out of law school, getting involved in the LA 84 Olympics with two years to go to the Games – negotiating deals as part the Olympic Families team
  2. Learning to work as a team and overcoming the Russian pullout, was the big learning
  3. Next stop, Democratic Presidential Campaign – Michael Dukakis
  4. United States Football League – new American Football League – managing player relations, contracts – one of the owners was Donald Trump (and listen to what happened)
  5. From the US to Europe/UK – Saatchi & Saatchi – big UK agency – working with major clients who were sponsors of major events, ie. the 1992 Albertville, Winter and 1992 Barcelona, Summer Olympics
  6. Off to Switzerland, ISL Marketing – SVP, selling media and sponsorship for the IAAF properties (International Association of Athletic Federation) now World Athletics
  7. Back to the US, leading Coca-Cola’s global Football program (over US$ 300 million investment) – Leading new campaigns, ideas and activations
  8. Dotcom boom time, getting into (Ask Jeeves) – selling search solution to the IOC, helping raise capital for country-specific launches, having to manage things during the dotcom crash
  9. Universal Sports Network – after 20 years in corporate/agency roles, co-founding (with Tom Hipkins) a multi-platform cable channel for Olympics sports (outside of the Olympics) for the US market – original name WCSN (World Championship Sports Network)
  10. Taking an idea from start to a full fledge business, bringing in PE group InterMedia Partners – heavy capital intense business, which then attracted NBC Sports
  11. From the start-up world – next stop - Google and YouTube – Global Head of Sports Content – cleaning up the illegal use of content on YouTube, building trust with IP owners in the platform
    1. Rightsholders clearly not happy with YouTube but also using them to scare traditional broadcasters that Google/YouTube might get involved in rights bidding
    2. New business model, some upfront guarantees against advertising dollars for the bigger sports, but mostly a rev-share model of ad dollars
    3. 2012 – 2014 Olympics, first time streaming bigger live content on YouTube & live stream of Red Bull Stratos jump (2012) – biggest live concurrent stream at the time (9 mil)
    4. Pushing YouTube to go after more sports rights at the time, looking at subscription model besides the advertising model
    5. His views for the future in the rights space – subscription (B2C) and ad model is the key for many rightsholders
    6. YouTubes, rev share model – quick insights
  12. Wanda Sports Group (Infront & HBS) – continuing his learning, taking charge of Digital, Production and Sports Solutions
  13. New technologies from digital on-field branding, ie. different branding for different regions to driving innovations in Infront X Lab
  14. HBS, Chairman of the Board, more oversight role, strong leadership team with Francis Tellier leading the production
  15. Latest role, Ubiquity Sports - working with start-ups in interactive digital fitness, athlete tracking, contextual advertising solutions and AI-driven solutions


Claude Ruibal is a senior, results-driven leader who has extensive experience in both the sport and digital industries. His impressive career has included many strategic and entrepreneurial roles across the US and Europe, including most recently as Chairman of HBS and SVP Infront - Digital, Production & Sports Solutions. Prior to that Claude was the Global Head of Sports Content Partnerships at GoPro, and before that as Global Head of Sports Content at Google/YouTube. Previously, he acted as Chairman & CEO of Universal Sports Television Network and Director of Global Football Management at the Coca-Cola Company.

He contributes proven abilities such as starting and managing new ventures, developing and executing integrated consumer-marketing and sales programs as well as building front and back end consumer Internet streaming and content solutions. Claude Ruibal has a Juris Doctorate from the Georgetown University School of Law and a BA in Political Science from the University of California Santa Barbara.

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