EXCLUSIVE: SNTV shuts down US operation, switches focus to Asia

SNTV, the sports video news agency that is a joint venture between IMG and the Associated Press, has closed down its New York-based US operation, SportBusiness understands.

The US operations were shut down towards the end of last week in a cost-cutting move that will shift production work to the SNTV offices in Asia and SNTV’s London headquarters.

Several long-standing SNTV staff have left abruptly as a result of the closure, including North America editor Rick Haas, who has been with the company for 21 years.

The New York-based staff are understood to have been informed of the news on Thursday during individual calls with Andrew Parkinson, SNTV’s managing editor, and an HR representative.

An email to SNTV’s global employees, seen by SportBusiness, was then sent out on Thursday evening. The email from managing director James Dobbs read: “Due to a combination of the changing industry landscape and a strategic focus on our Asian business, as of today we are closing the SNTV office in New York.

“Going forward all production and planning work previously carried out in New York will be undertaken by London and Singapore.”

Dobbs, previously the vice-president, rights and sales at IMG Replay, the archive business of IMG, became SNTV’s managing director six months ago, replacing Martin Kay.

It is understood that the US operation was already under review before the Covid-19 outbreak as Dobbs looked at cost-cutting measures, coupled with plans to strengthen the Asia operation with new hires. The production facilities in Singapore are being scaled up as SNTV centralises production work between the two main newsrooms (in London and Singapore).

SNTV’s US-based staff worked out of the AP headquarters in New York.

US major leagues, boxing, golf and tennis events that have been covered by the New York-based team remain on hiatus amidst the Covid-19 shutdown. SNTV is now expected to turn to editorial and commercial resources across AP and IMG to plug the gap in providing the necessary services to customers and rights-holders.

The closing of the US operation is not believed to be a direct consequence of parent group Endeavor’s moves to lay off employees in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Endeavor has already laid off around 250 staff as the sports and film industries continue to be on shut down amid the global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This first round of cost cutting mainly affected operational staff unable to work from home and chiefly those at IMG Academy, the agency’s sports and educational performance unit.