SBD/Closing Bell

IMG WCOS: New Team Owners Discuss Hurdles They Face

Keeping Dolphins fans engaged during the lockout is difficult, especially because fans side with the players, Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross said during a panel discussion today at SportsBusiness Journal’s/SportsBusiness Daily’s IMG World Congress of Sports. Ross said letting fans “know we are still in business, there will be a season,” is an urgent objective during the offseason for the club as it looks to sell season tickets. “It is much more challenging selling season tickets,” he added. But the league will not back down in devising a new economic model, he continued. “There probably won’t be football until it does work,” he warned.

The other panel members, Blackhawks Owner Rocky Wirtz, MLS Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson, certainly had less nationally significant hurdles than the future of the NFL, but pressing concerns nonetheless. The Timbers are in the midst of their inaugural season, and had only a short time between start of the season and the opening of their new park. Paulson would like to see referee changes in MLS to encourage more scoring, as a well as a greater national TV presence for the sport. In Chicago, Wirtz, coming off a Stanley Cup win and plaudits for turning around the team’s fortunes too off the ice, said maintaining the high fan experience continues to be a challenge.



Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable's move to stream TV channels to tablets inside subscribers' homes has met resistance from media companies like Viacom. But media execs from four major sports leagues threw their support behind the idea during the panel session Sports Media Co-Existence: League-Owned Nets and Traditional Nets. Part of the reason leagues support the idea is because their network partners, like ESPN, see sports as impervious to risks associated with the idea of TV Everywhere.

ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper: "It is more important for sports than anywhere else because you want to watch it on the best available screen and you have to watch live and you might not be able to watch it on your 50-inch television screen in your living room, so we're advantaged in this."

Read more from the IMG World Congress of Sports in Miami.
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