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SBD/Issue 126/Sportsbusiness Daily Exclusives
IMG World Congress of Sports 2010
Published March 15, 2010
PANEL LOOKING AT PHILANTHROPY IN SPORTS WRAPS UP WCOS IN L.A.
|Hawk, Mutombo Discuss
Philanthropy's Role In Sports
Earlier this year, skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, in partnership with Athletes for Hope, began a discussion among his professional peers centered on the question “Do athletes have an obligation to give back?” Contemporaries from Steve Nash to Mia Hamm responded, largely through the use of Twitter, that the answer was yes, but perhaps “opportunity” was a better word than “obligation.” This was the focus of the final panel Thursday at the IMG World Congress of Sports, titled “The Role of Philanthropy in Sports,” featuring Hawk; NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo; Agassi Graf Holdings and Andre Agassi Foundation for Education CEO Steve Miller; and Team-Up for Youth Chair Wally Haas. Panelists agreed that athletes have a unique platform for philanthropic work, and that often what first is seen as an opportunity later becomes a passion that extends far beyond an athlete’s professional career. “The power of sports is viewed larger than life in this world,” Haas said. “I have seen more athletes who maybe thought they were going to do this because ‘this might be good for my image,’ but when they see the impact, they get so much out of it.” Mutombo said the message that should appeal to athletes -- and society in general -- is that everyone has the chance to contribute to the image and development of our future society. “We are going to be judged by our future generations,” he said. There was a consensus that sports-driven philanthropy is just getting started. “We’re still just scratching the surface,” Haas said. “This is such a powerful medium to make great change.”
BOTTOM LINE CONTRIBUTIONS: For sports teams, leagues and corporations, charitable work is not just about giving back, panelists said. It can help your bottom line, too. Haas, whose family owned the A's during the '80s and ‘90s, said he instilled the importance of community involvement in the entire organization. “With (athletes’) community involvement, we started to be known for -- even if we had a bad season -- that these are good guys,” He added, “Corporate sponsors started to want to partner with us because they wanted their brand to be affiliated with a community program.” Miller said that Andre Agassi’s charitable work has helped differentiate him from other popular athletes and drive corporations to partner with his foundation. “The corporation wants to make a positive public statement as well,” Miller said. “When you have an athlete that shows clear passion and differentiation, you then have a cross-section that provides a platform for corporations to be more active.”
-- Peter Simones, 4:29pm
FILMMAKERS EXPOUND ON FUTURE OF SPORTS AS STORYTELLING VEHICLE
Is this the Golden Age of sports film making? Some of the most well-known sports filmmakers sat down together to discuss the past and future of sports as a storytelling vehicle on the second morning of the IMG World Congress of Sports. Mediated by ESPN reporter Chris Connelly, the panel included Producer, Director and Writer Ron Shelton; Director and Screenwriter John Lee Hancock; HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg; and Mike Tollin Productions Director Mike Tollin.
|Shelton Says MLB Was The Most
Difficult League To Negotiate With
PROPERTY RIGHTS: As sports filmmakers, the panelists were united in their sentiment of the hardships inherent to chasing the story, including negotiating with various leagues and sports properties. Greenburg said, “It can be tough based on the content. If it is controversial and it is the kind of stuff that they just want to put under a rug, then the difficult negotiation begins.”
|Tollin And Greenburg Disagree With View
That Stories Need To Be Unkown
DEFINING A GENRE:
|Hancock Feels Women Characters
Help Drive Women Audiences
LADIES NIGHT: Each of the panelists agreed that while many sports movies are not about women athletes, women are central to their filmmaking process.
-- Melody Huskey, 3:58pm
PANEL ADDRESSES NEED FOR UNIFIED RIGHTS ACROSS ALL MEDIA PLATFORMS
|Jamie Davis, Joseph Ravitch, Ken Solomon,
Derek Chang, Randy Freer And Lenny Daniels
The need for unified rights across all media platforms dominated a Thursday morning session on sports media at the IMG World Congress of Sports. A world in which the consumer needs to tap into different sources if he wants to view the game on a mobile phone rather than on TV is not sustainable for either sports media companies or fans, said panelists: FSN President Randy Freer; DirecTV Exec VP/Content Strategy & Development Derek Chang; Turner Sports Exec VP & COO Lenny Daniels; Versus President Jamie Davis; Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon; and Raine Founder & Partner Joseph Ravitch. From a consumer standpoint, Chang said, “You’re setting yourself up for a poor customer experience when they’re going to have to look for (programming) in different places.” Panelists generally agreed that the overall sports media pie has ample room to grow without introducing new technologies, but because rights fees aren’t coming down anytime soon, existing technologies and business models needed to be efficiently managed and exploited. “The focus (should be) on working with the leagues, the teams, the sellers of rights to try to put yourself in a position to create the best consumer experience,” Freer said. “It’s a business model that makes sense as opposed to one that bifurcates everything along the consumer chain.”
HOME AND AWAY: Panelists agreed that future growth prospects exist both in domestic and international markets. Solomon echoed sentiments about the potential to increase sports media revenue in the
-- Peter Simones, 3:22pm ET
PANEL DISCUSSES FUTURE OF SPORTS BUSINESS AT WORLD CONGRESS OF SPORTS
|Leiweke Feels Sports Team Owners
Are Spending Too Much On Players
Owners across all leagues are spending too much on players and talent, AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke said today during a panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports titled “The Crystal Ball: Forecasting the Future of Sports Business.” Leiweke said sports and entertainment companies are “simply paying talent too much.” He said league leaders need to protect owners from themselves “because we're heroin addicts” who spend on talent and would “keep spending” if they could. But NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said owners do not need to be saved from themselves. He said they are smart and involved in negotiating a labor agreement. Silver noted that he is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about negotiations with the NBPA. The NFL is in the midst of similar negotiations with its players, and NFL Giants Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch said the primary issue for owners is that the costs of stadiums have risen to a level where “it's very expensive to run and finance a National Football League team.” He was optimistic the NFL and NFLPA would reach resolution. Tisch declined to say who will win in the labor negotiation, but said both parties “want the fan experience not to be interrupted.” In an audience poll, just 33% of respondents said they thought the NFL would lose regular-season games to a strike or lockout in ‘11.
|Wasserman Expects To See More
Dynamic Ticket Pricing In Future
MINING FOR GOLD: NFL Exec VP/Media and NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein said revenue streams are opening up for leagues on new technology platforms, and pointed to the NFL’s new $720M deal with Verizon as an example. Bornstein said, “We believe there's premium content out there and people will pay for that. RedZone is an example of that.” He rejected claims by broadcasters that delivering content on new platforms would undermine ratings for rightsholders. The NFL would be careful not to kill “the golden goose” that is television rights fees by creating new products, he said, but if the NFL and others do not innovate and reinvent ways to deliver their content they will lose younger fans. Leiweke said that at the team level, the evolution in sports has taken owners from being focused on ticket revenue to suites and premium seats to real estate and entertainment districts in and around stadiums. He said, “Suddenly, we've all grown from being sports people to being developers, builders and entrepreneurs. The confluence of sports and being an entrepreneur has now come full circle. ... It's amazing to see how sports have evolved.” Leiweke said that while developments around stadiums have helped generate new revenue streams, they also have created an issue for owners on the labor front because players benefiting from venue revenues do not share in the debt servicing associated with them. WMG Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman said that if he was a team owner today he would eliminate tickets so that he could track where tickets were moving on the secondary market. That would allow the team to monetize the secondary market more effectively. He also predicted that dynamic pricing will become more standardized in the future, saying a Tuesday night Lakers game simply is not as valuable as a Friday night game. Wasserman said, “There's a lot of incremental revenue to be generated by ticketing.”
|Tisch Receives Support For A
N.Y. Super Bowl From Panelists
OPEN SESAME: Tisch discussed the ongoing search for a naming-rights sponsor to title the Giants’ new Meadowlands stadium they will own with the Jets. “We all know that certain potential naming rights partners are sitting back right now,” he said. “I don't want to put a gun to anyone's head. I'm optimistic we'll have a naming rights partner.” Wasserman, whose agency is handling the naming rights search, expressed similar optimism. Meanwhile, Tisch noted the Giants in May will make a presentation to fellow owners about bringing the Super Bowl to N.Y. The Giants are not looking to become part of the regular Super Bowl rotation, but do want to become a one-time destination for the event. Tisch said, “I think the opportunity to spend Super Bowl week in
|Silver Says NBA Is Generating "Real
Money" From Investments In China, India
GOING GLOBAL: Wasserman predicted that a
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: To wrap up the session, panelists offered their perspective on what the sports industry needs to do a better job of. Here are their responses:
- Wasserman - Working together for its common interest.
- Tisch – A better job of listening to the fan.
- Silver – Supporting women's professional sports.
- Leiweke – More interaction with fans and a better economic model with players
Bornstein – More interaction with fans.-- Tripp Mickle & Melody Huskey, 1:56pm ET
SPORTING NEWS ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIPS WITH ZINIO, CINESPORT AND COORS LIGHT
|Sporting News' Price Discusses Upcoming
Changes To Enhanced Version Of SNT
Sporting News this morning announced at the IMG World Congress of Sports presented by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily new partnerships with interactive publishing products and services outfit Zinio, video syndicator CineSport and Coors Light to aid the forthcoming launch of an enhanced version of Sporting News Today, the property's digital daily news service. As previously announced, the service on April 1 will shift to a pay model in which users will be charged $2.99 per month. That subscription however will allow for full transferability between any wired or wireless device, including the iPad and other advanced e-reader devices currently under development. The partnership with Zinio will help power that transferability, as well as a deep multimedia experience in which the relaunched Sporting News Today will include video and audio content, full-motion advertising and other enhancements. CineSport, which has steadily built its business aggregating official league highlights and licensing them to local media outlets, will provide Sporting News for both the digital daily and SportingNews.com a daily stream of game highlights from the NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA Tour and many colleges. Sporting News will also become the official national sales agent for the N.J.-based CineSport. "We believe all of this will be a game-changing experience for both fans and advertisers," said Sporting News President & Publisher Jeff Price. The CineSport-Sporting News alliance will also allow Sporting News to develop its own original video content to supplement the aggregated highlight material. Coors Light has signed as the launch sponsor for the new Sporting News Today. Sporting News is owned by American City Business Journals, parent company of SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.
-- Eric Fisher, 1:05pm ET
EXECS DISCUSS WAYS TO ENGAGE CONSUMERS AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH BRANDS
|Waller, Chin And Belcher Feel Economy Playing
Part In Consumers Demanding More Value From Brands
The sports marketing industry is in much better shape than it was one year ago, but fans are demanding more value from the brands they interact with, execs said Wednesday at the IMG World Congress of Sports. The “Brand-Leader Panel: Marketing Strategies that Engage Consumers and Build Relationships with the Brand" included NFL CMO Mark Waller; NHL COO John Collins; T-Mobile VP/Brand Communications Marketing Mike Belcher; EA Sports VP/Global Brand Management Glenn Chin; and Phillips-Van Heusen Exec VP/Marketing Mike Kelly. More than ever, consumers are asking what exactly they are getting out of each purchase they make, demanding transparency and honesty from the brands they interact with most, panelists said. “All consumers want more understanding -- if I give you ‘X,’ whether that’s time, money, passion, love, viewership, I want to know what I’m getting in return,” Waller said. “I think that’s a function of people feeling they got conned when (the economy) collapsed.” Even brands known for low-cost positioning have had to rethink value through the consumer’s mind, and panelists agreed that sports was a vehicle to add extra value. “You had to respond to price depression. There was a lot of compression into that (low-cost) space,” Kelly said, adding that Van Heusen’s “Fan’s Choice” campaign, which allowed fans to vote on Pro Football HOF selections, was one method the company used to become more attractive to department stores. “Sports gives us a platform for real spend if we can find a space that we can own,” Kelly said.
SPREADING THE LOVE: In an economy that has forced many fans to part ways with items and purchases not essential to everyday life, panelists agreed that sports maintains a unique position with consumers because of brand strength. Waller said, “In their lives, there are very few things that (consumers) fundamentally love. Their sport or their team is one of the things they put on that list.” Chin said companies that fans rely on to deliver meaningful sports experiences need to constantly stay on top of what is drawing attention at the time. “You have that core Madden base, and they want that experience to continue throughout the year,” Chin added, noting that the NFL Combine has been given more prominence in recent editions of the video game. Belcher said T-Mobile has noticed “major spikes” in mobile phone interaction during sporting events. “We call it trash texting. If a brand can be a part of that, or enable it, that’s pretty powerful.”
FRESH AND CLEAN: Although leagues and sponsors have found success with large-scale, one-time or once-annual events in recent years, panelists cautioned against increasing the volume of such events for fear that they become merely another game in fans’ minds. In response to Blues Owner Dave Checketts’ comment during an earlier panel that the NHL should expand the number of Winter Classic games, Collins said, “The debate is really about the uniqueness of this one event on January 1, and how to keep it special. The idea of outdoor hockey is not unique -- that’s the way most people begin to learn the game.” Collins added this year’s game at
-- Peter Simones, 10:13am ET
INAUGURAL "CHAMPIONS" CLASS OFFERS LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP AND SUCCESS
|(l to r) Host, Colangelo, Ponturo,
Lopiano, Labinski And Pilson
The first day of World Congress closed with a first-time panel of sports legends who tossed aside industry terms like return-on-investment and rights fees in order to impart lessons about leadership and success. The panel was made up of the first class of "The Champions," a new award that recognizes sports business pioneers and innovators: Suns Chair and USA Basketball BOD Chair Jerry Colangelo; Host Communications Founder Jim Host; Populous co-Founder and former Managing Partner Ron Labinski; Sports Management Resources President Donna Lopiano; Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson; and Ponturo Management Group CEO Tony Ponturo.
FAITH-BASED BUSINESS: Believing in yourself and supporting good ideas with hard work are the cornerstone of success, the panelists agreed. Host said, "I have always had immense faith in myself. I never questioned whether I could make it work. I never communicated defeat. I never communicated lack of faith in my own ability." Colangelo used an anecdotal example of leveraging opportunities to illustrate this point, saying that, "In 1992 when we opened the America West Arena,
|"The Champion" Award Winners Discuss
The Roots Of Their Success
FUTURE PICK'EM: Lopiano said her career was driven by a search for the next best thing. She added that her success was rooted in her effort to "never make the same mistake twice." When discussing their predictions for the future, the panelists used the example of potential changes to the format of the NCAA basketball tournament. Host took a firm stance against a move to 96 teams, saying, "To some degree it is about money, but sooner or later that issue has got to stop and we have got to think about the student athletes." Pilson echoed that money would drive the NCAA's final decision. He added he was concerned about ESPN's growing power in the sports business, saying the network has reached a point where it "can basically price out all of the broadcasters on any given negotiation." That could be a problem, Pilson added, because ESPN could decide "they don't need to spend any more money because they pretty have all the major properties that they need to have to maintain (their per home subsidy)."
-- Melody Huskey
VISA'S "GO WORLD" FOCUS OF "CAMPAIGNS IN THE SPOTLIGHT" CASE STUDY
|Watch Visa's "First Canadian
Gold Medal" TV Spot
In the weeks since the Vancouver Olympics, Visa has determined that three of the 10 most-remembered and well-liked ads during the Games -- including the Dan Jansen spot that was the Olympics' best-performing ad -- were part of credit card company's "Go World" campaign. Discussing Visa's strategy and how creative partner TBWA\Chiat\Day,
IT'S A DIGITAL WORLD: Lynch said that 40% of Visa's total
-- Peter Simones
TEAMS INCORPORATING NEW TECHNOLOGIES AT VENUES TO MEET FANS EXPECTATIONS
Fan expectations that teams offer in-arena enhancements has pushed teams to incorporate new technologies into their venues, team and technology company executives said at a panel for the IMG World Congress of Sports titled "Making the Live Game Experience Meaningful and Relevant through Technology and Innovation." The panel included New Meadowlands Stadium Co. VP/Design & Construction Robert Jordan; Trail Blazers President Larry Miller; Heat Exec VP & CIO Tony Coba; Sharks President & CEO Greg Jamison; and MLB Giants Senior Vice President & CIO Bill Schlough. The panelists agreed that fans now expect enhancements to their in-arena experience beyond just watching the game. Coba said fans are looking to "engage the players. Just so they can feel the experience in ways that they can't in a one dimensional aspect or in a bar." Providing better instant replays within the arena is one way teams are working to provide fans with a better experience, said Schlough. Jamison agreed, adding, "Sometimes you have to convince your league that is is okay to show a replay. Because the people at home are going to see it 37 different ways from Sunday and I just paid a whole lot of money for this ticket and I have this incredible video board and I can't see the replay." The rapid pace of technological innovation has created new challenges for sports franchises planning new stadiums,
VANITY PLATES: Personalizing marketing messages for specific sponsors and specific events is a large part of the added value that technological innovations bring to a sports property. At the Rose Garden, Miller said, the Trail Blazers have the ability to offer advertising space to their sponsors on any of the 161 HD screens in arena, but also have the ability to use that same platform to broadcast a message from the team itself. Miller added, "We have been in the process of re-branding our team, re-branding our arena, re-branding our product. Technology and things that we have done inside our arena have played a big part of that." Branding is a focus of the New Meadowlands stadium, the only facility called home by two NFL teams. Every piece of the stadium is being built so that the Giants and Jets can each express the individual team brand, said
PLANS BOTH BIG AND SMALL: At the new Meadowlands stadium, developers focused on incorporating technology components that allow the teams to capture data about fan behavior throughout every game.
-- Melody Huskey
EXPERTS DISCUSS ECONOMY, TIGER WOODS DURING "SPORTS MARKETING ROUNDTABLE"
|Woodward Stresses The Importance
Of Fresh Ideas In Sports Marketing
While the science of return-on-investment measurement is important, the ability to develop effective ideas remains the cornerstone of sports marketing, brand experts said yesterday during a panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports entitled “Sports Marketing Roundtable: Value, Partnerships and Returns.” MillerCoors VP/Marketing Services Jackie Woodward said, “At the risk of sounding heretical, the science is very important, but the reason all of us got into this business is because of the art. I don't want to lose the creativity, the ideas and the inspiration that bring sports to life for consumers because at the end of the day the ideas create momentum and the momentum does create sales. Ideas are what it's all about.” EPL club Arsenal Chief Commercial Officer Tom Fox agreed and added that every brand continues to try to quantify its sports investments against the objectives it sets, but the only way to understand the full effect is to analyze the collective affects of an activation from corporate morale to distributors to retailers to consumers. Fox said, “Results are what matter. If you've got good marketers who know what drive their business, who know which set of the consumer market they're talking to, who know exactly how they want to talk to them and what's going to work, you can put a variety of tactics in their and find success.” Callaway VP/Sports Marketing Nick Raffaele said that to achieve that marketers have to filter an array of ideas and possibilities and stay on task. He added, “The thing we talk about always is -- how does that line up against our ladder of objectives? If it doesn't fit and it's more of an idea, you just have to set off in an idea box and come back and use it later.”
|Mater Says Red Bull Saw Sales
Increase Despite Down Economy
RIDING OUT THE RECESSION: The recession affected each of the panelists' businesses differently. Woodward said that Coors Light and MillerCoors took share last year; Fox noted the
|Raffaele Says Tiger Situation Has
Not Affected Way He Signs Golfers
FALLING PRICES: The marketers said they have seen some declines in the pricing of sponsorships as a result of the recession and added that marketers are more focused on getting value out of their partnerships than in the past. Woodward said, “We are getting more selective about choosing those value for money propositions.” She said that searching for value led MillerCoors to partner with SI.com and Citizen Sports to advertise on a March Madness bracket, which didn't involve the NCAA but did allow the company to reach 2 million consumers. Mater said prices had dropped in the market because the “marketplace has less money and there's more inventory. Brands are wanting deeper experiences and the rightsholder are creating more opportunities.” Woodward said, “It used to be about what beer companies and brewers were willing to pay. Now it's about what we want to get for what we pay. That's all about driving retail and selling more beer.”
TALKING TIGER: Raffaele said Callaway was disappointed initially when the Tiger Woods scandal broke, but the company has since changed its mind. He added, “He's come back.
-- Tripp Mickle
YAHOO'S BARTZ DISCUSSES PAYWALLS, CITIZEN SPORTS NETWORK IN KEYNOTE ADDRESS
|Bartz Feels Online Content Will
Remain Almost Entirely Free
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Wednesday during a keynote address at the IMG World Congress of Sports said online content will remain almost entirely free, with the noted exception of some premium video content and specialized material, despite efforts by some mainstream media outlets to implement paywalls. "Free is clearly the future," Bartz said. "In our own case, after we dropped fees on fantasy (live scoring), our audience went up by double-digit percentages, and more than that, we saw improved engagement across Yahoo. It was something we agonized about initially, but it's been a really big insight not only to us but our advertisers." Bartz also discussed several prevailing trends now emerging online, including the growth of social media-related material and the deep personalization of the online experience, and used the forum, as expected, to formally announce Yahoo's acquisition of S.F.-based Citizen Sports Network. "This is an amazing company that's brought social relevance to the sports world," Bartz said of the Citizen Sports, brokered in large part by Yahoo VP/Media Jimmy Pitaro. "I am extremely happy this has happened." Like many others, Bartz said she sees continued improvement in the national economy at large and online advertising market specifically. But she added, "If Washington doesn't settle down, trying constantly to do this and do that, then the American consumer won't settle down."
-- Eric Fisher, 4:22pm ET
LABOR EMERGES AS KEY ISSUE EARLY AT IMG WORLD CONGRESS OF SPORTS
|Goren Says Threat Of NFL Strike
In '11 Is His Number One Concern
Labor was the topic of choice Wednesday during the first roundtable discussion at the IMG World Congress of Sports, where panelists said possible work stoppages in MLS, the NFL and NBA will change network's television programming plans, influence corporate sponsorship spending and benefit sports properties that continue to operate. The panel included MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan; SCP Worldwide Chair Dave Checketts; Fox Sports President Ed Goren; IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne; and Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski. MLS may be the first league to suffer a work stoppage if players go through with a threatened strike next week. Checketts said a work stoppage to any league is “devastating," and added, “Nobody wins. Everybody loses. The NBA and NFL have quite a road ahead.” Goren said a potential NFL strike is his number one concern. He said that he doesn't expect much resolution on the league's labor unrest until August '11 and added that Fox would likely fill its Sunday sports window with other sports programming if the NFL shut down. Pyne said marketers will have to make tough decisions as they plan their sponsorship activations in '11. He added, “Obviously, it's a risk for marketers as they make plans for 2011. You have to take that into consideration as you look forward.” But Pyne noted he will be watching what sports properties actual benefit from strikes in other leagues. “NASCAR clearly benefited in the 1990s when all the other sports had labor problems. There will be real winners. There will be real losers. Depending on where you it in sports, you have to figure out how that may help you and affect you.”
|Roski Says The Cost Of Building
An NFL Stadium Is Skyrocketing
LAMENTING LABOR: Checketts said that the big issue in the backdrop is that there has been a lot of change in owners and players since recent work stoppages. He added, “These guys that are there now were not there in '99 when (the NBA) lost half a season. They weren't there in the '80s when we were at the table with players. They don't understand yet, in my view, how damaging (a work stoppage) can be. ... Those who haven't learned from the mistakes of the past are prone to repeat them.” Brosnan said that every labor agreement MLB ever made was about “people,” “relationships” and “getting the other side to trust you.” He believes that will be critical for the NFL as Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith negotiate their first deal together. Brosnan said, “What's going to be instructive for everyone is to watch these two ... try to build a relationship so that there's trust across the table because that's ultimately the bedrock for getting a deal done.” Roski said in the NFL there needs to be an appreciation for the costs owners have to pay to build the venues that create the revenue, and thus allow them to pay players. He added, “The costs of doing these things have skyrocketed. There has to be some way the league and the players can come to an agreement. You can't continue to raise the cost of club seats or suite.”
DRIVING NEW REVENUE: Brosnan said MLB's effort to drive new revenue is centered on the network it launched last year. MLB Network already is available in more than 50 million homes and MLB is still working to get carriage on AT&T and Dish Network, which would generate additional revenue. Looking ahead, Brosnan said the key question is how much game programming the network should air. He added, “One of the things we'll have an active discussion with television partners and ownership is just how robust a game programming piece we want to put on the network, and if we do that, we'll expect exponential growth on the revenue side from it.” Checketts said that the Winter Classic has shown the NHL and its owners that special events still offer new revenue opportunities. Checketts: "The special events still seem to create a stir and a tremendous amount of revenue. ... It creates a tremendous amt of interest around a winter-themed event.” Pyne said IMG is looking overseas in its effort to increase its revenue. He pointed to the agency's recent agreement with Reliance Foundation to construct IMG academies in
|Brosnan Feels MLB Network Helps
Promote Fox' Baseball Coverage
MIXING IT UP ON MEDIA: Goren expressed concern about the proliferation of league networks and the increases in Internet streaming of sports events. He said, “At some point, you're going to water down the value of your network or major television deal. At some point somebody's going to say enough. We're not going to pay you what we pay you. Find other ways to get that revenue.” He said the Verizon deal with the NFL and the NFL's Red Zone channels were examples of new agreements that damaged broadcasters. He added, “As more and more people go to a Red Zone, at some point there will be enough people watching a Red Zone as opposed to a game that's being aired in that market.” Goren said Internet streaming of live games is similar. He said it draws viewers away from the broadcasts that rightsholders are paying rights fees to attract, and as the computer becomes people's television, that will become a major issue. Goren: “If someone wants to stream that along with the live broadcasts so leagues can make more money, don't do that to us. ...You're taking money out of my pocket.” Brosnan challenged Goren, asking him how he felt about MLB's investment in a network that basically acted as an “infomercial” for Fox during the offseason. Brosnan said, “It never competes with you directly. It spends 365 days a year talking about baseball.” Goren replied, “There's some value in it whether it's the NBA, NFL or baseball. It's a great product but you're telling me it's great promotion for the sport and therefore it's great for Fox. I'm not so sure.”
GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM: The panelists all expressed skepticism that Internet streaming would provide real revenue to leagues and teams. Goren said it would be a long process, and Checketts said he was a “doubter.” Checketts said SCP Worldwide got “creamed” on its acquisition and effort to stream South American World Cup Qualifiers because the games were pirated everywhere. Checketts added, “We were powerless to do anything on this. We got killed.” Goren said the only way live streaming would work was if it took place during the day when people were stuck in the office. He added, “There's value there.”
EYEING INNOVATION: Brosnan said that the innovation he was watching most was the development of 3D televisions. He noted he had an appointment later in the day to review new televisions, and he was excited about the technology's potential because he felt it a 3D camera behind the plate could show viewers the type of speed and movement on a pitch. He added, “If we can make that translate better for the viewer, home run.” But Goren wasn't buying it. He said he just bought six HD TVs and doubted he would buy six 3D TVs any time soon. He added, “I'm convinced that as soon as I buy the 3D sets with the glasses, they'll release the 3D without the glasses.” Roski said he believes the most important innovation is how owners developed areas around stadiums. Pointing to L.A. Live as an example, he said, “How do we integrate other things into (stadiums and arenas) like L.A. Live? I think we need to be innovative in our physical plans, too.”
|Pyne Says Changing Face Of U.S.
Bodes Well For Soccer
JUST AROUND THE CORNER: Goren said the Olympics were overpriced for the '10 and '12 Games and predicted that “unless the mouse steps up and pays them from that $4.50 she pays for ESPN, which she doesn't even know what it stands for,” the rights fees paid for the 2014 and 2016 Games would decrease. Goren said that NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol did a great job with the Vancouver Olympics, adding that the tape delay coverage was nothing more than something writers decided to write about. Goren: “Writers shouldn't get paid to write the same damn story again.” He said Ebersol “didn't hurt the Olympics, he helped the Olympics. He just paid too much.” Meanwhile, the audience said that ratings for the World Cup would be up this summer compared to '06, with 38% predicting ratings will increase significantly, 44% predicting they will be slightly higher, 14% predicting they will be flat and just 7% saying they will be down. Brosnan said that if the
-- Tripp Mickle, 4:19pm ET
CHECKETTS SAYS STRIKE WOULD BE "DEVASTATING" TO MLS, BUT IS AVOIDABLE
|Checketts Feels Player Strike
Would Be "Devastating" To MLS
SCP Worldwide Chair Dave Checketts said a MLS player strike would be "devastating" to the league but he believes MLS owners and players will find a way to make a deal to avoid a work stoppage. Speaking on a panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports, Checketts said, “I'm hoping in the next few days cooler heads prevail and we find a way through this. I hope [players] understand the implications of a strike. It's not that they go out and come right back after missing one game. It's much more complicated than that. I've spoken to Commissioner Garber last night. I think we will find a way to make a deal. I think we will find a way to make a deal soon. But if there is a strike, I've been through it in the NHL and the NBA. To our owners, this will not be their first rodeo.” Players have threatened to strike next Tuesday if the MLS Players Union fails to agree to terms with MLS on a new CBA. Free agency remains the primary sticking point between players and the league, Checketts said. He added, “The league is built as a single entity and that single entity has allowed us to keep labor costs somewhat in check and even with those labor costs in check. This is not a money-making operation yet, so it is going to require more years of investing. We're still pioneers. We're not settling. It's not time for any sort of work stoppage.”
-- Tripp Mickle, 2:29pm ET
YAHOO CONTINUES DIGITAL SPORTS GROWTH WITH CITIZEN SPORTS PURCHASE
Yahoo has purchased Citizen Sports Network, continuing its marked expansion in scale and influence within the digital sports media industry. Company CEO Carol Bartz is slated to formally announce the deal today during her keynote address at the IMG World Congress of Sports presented by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. The deal seeks to expand Yahoo's profile within social media and on mobile devices, as Citizen Sports Network has engineered a highly successful march into Facebook and the iPhone and Android platforms following a major recalibration of its business model two years ago from its original roots as the niche-oriented fantasy operation ProTrade. Financial terms were not disclosed, but industry sources pegged the deal in the mid-eight-figure range. Yahoo purchased college sports and recruiting hub Rivals.com nearly three years ago for $98M. "This is a fantastic fit for Yahoo," said Yahoo VP/Media Jimmy Pitaro. "We're big on socializing our content and taking the Yahoo experience wherever users go, and Citizen Sports' assets fit perfectly into that. People have only a finite amount of time to spend online, and they're spending more and more of it on Facebook. This in part is a move to get at that." The deal is an outright acquisition of the company, meaning Yahoo will also gain Citizen Sports' thriving Sportacular mobile unit, itself a company Citizen Sports acquired nearly 18 months ago. Citizen Sports and its staff, led by CEO Mike Kerns and co-Founder Jeff Ma, will remain intact working out of its existing downtown S.F. offices. But company execs will remain in frequent contact with Yahoo headquarters in nearby
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE: The purchase is also expected to hasten Citizen Sports' existing emphasis on international properties as the company has in recent months aggressively developed fan groups and fantasy games built around EPL and Spanish La Liga soccer, Indian professional cricket and other popular overseas sports entities. "Yahoo was one of the truly global properties out there. And given that Facebook and mobile are also truly global, we see the synergies as really obvious and very, very significant, and for us, a really exciting element of this," Kerns said. Citizen Sports' existing fantasy sports partnership with SI Digital, which also involved a sales component, will be re-evaluated following the closing of the transaction, expected in the second quarter of this year. "It's premature to say what will happen there. We've had no conversations with SI on that yet," Pitaro said. "But we'll take a fresh perspective, and we'd love to work something out." Yahoo will blend some of its fantasy games with those developed by Citizen Sports, as well as create ones, that will play on Yahoo, within Facebook, and on mobile, depending on user preferences. "We've obviously made some very big investments in fantasy games and fantasy content," Pitaro said, referencing in part partnerships with MLBAM, the NHL and PGA Tour, among others. "So we're developing a situation where a user can experience fantasy literally however they want and take that experience across the platforms."
-- Eric Fisher, 1:30pm ET
IMG WORLD CONGRESS OF SPORTS HOSTS SPECIAL VIP/SPEAKERS DINNER
|WCOS Opens With VIP Dinner
At The Congo Room At L.A. Live
The IMG World Congress of Sports presented by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily held a speakers and VIP dinner last night at The Congo Room at L.A. Live. Guests included IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne; AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke; AEG Chair Phil Anschutz and his wife, Nancy; MLS Commissioner Don Garber; Fox Sports Chair David Hill; NHRA drivers Ashley and John Force; NFL CMO Mark Waller; Golden Boy Entertainment President Oscar de la Hoya; Visa Head of Global Sponsorship Management Michael Lynch; Majestic Realty Co. Chair & CEO Ed Roski; Proskauer Rose attorneys Howard Ganz, Joe Lecesse and Brad Ruskin; Bank of America Senior VP & Sports Sponsorship Exec Ray Bednar; and several members of the SBD/SBJ "Champions" program to be announced today – Basketball HOF and USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo, Louisville Arena Authority Chair Jim Host, Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson and Ponturo Management Group CEO Tony Ponturo.